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model / gandau

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    As1930,0613.1

  • Description

    Model gandau carved from a single piece of wood (pine or cedar?) of a male figure with an elaborate, v-shaped headdress seated on a throne covered in carved geometric patterns. The clothing on the figure is indicated by carved bands across the body and grid patterns on the legs. The face is carved flat beneath a jutting forehead with a pointed nose and eyes are inlaid with stone.

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  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 19thC(late)-20thC(early)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 49.5 centimetres
    • Width: 17 centimetres
    • Depth: 14 centimetres
    • Weight: 3.74 kilograms
  • Curator's comments

    According to register note: 'Set up on grave one year after burial.'According to register note: 'Set up on grave one year after burial.'

    The British Museum holds 11 examples of model gandaus dating from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. While these models resemble full-size gandaus, they were made for a different purpose: for sale to visitors to the region, and especially soldier-collectors from whose collections the majority of the model gandaus came to the British Museum. Model gandaus are still being made for sale to a foreign, increasingly tourist-driven, market.

    Gandaus are life-sized male and female effigies carved from wood (usually deodar) by the Kalasha people in Pakistan and, formerly, by the Nuristani people in Afghanistan. Gandaus are often intricately carved, painted and draped with items of clothing. Considered to be imbued with the spirit of the deceased, the figures are placed near coffins. Notably, they are not exact portraits of the deceased but generally uniform and stylised representations. There are three types: standing, seated and equestrian figures. Male figures are more common than female and are generally carved either standing or on horseback, with the horse having either one or two heads. The two-headed horse figure is a particularly potent symbol of power, representing the highest status that can be accorded through a gandau to a Kalasha individual. Similarly, male figures carved wearing turbans denote authority and bravery. By contrast, women tend to be depicted seated on ornately carved chairs wearing caps with four horns. These horns refer back to the belief among the Kalasha that a goat born with four horns was an auspicious omen.

    Captain Hector Bethune (As1930,0130.1; As1944,06.1) and Colonel G.C. Hodgson (As1951,01.1; As1951,01.2) acquired the four earliest examples of model gandaus in the Museum’s collection during the Relief of Chitral in 1895. Three models were made for Captain J.P. Sulley (As1930,1023.1; As1930,1023.2; As1930,1023.3) in Chitral, Pakistan, in 1915-16, arriving at the British Museum with a selection of photographs and a letter. Lieutenant-Colonel G.P.T. Dean (As1963,14.1) acquired one from Chitral in c.1923 and one came from the collection of Major-General S.H. Powell (As1931,1013.1). H.G. Beasley (As1930,0613.1) donated one, while there is no acquisition information associated with the final model (As1981,Q.45).

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  • Bibliography

    • Jansari 2014 pp.48-51 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1930

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number

    As1930,0613.1

Funerary figure or grave effigy carved from a single piece of wood (pine or cedar?) of a man with an elaborate headdress seated on a throne. The clothing on the figure is indicated with carved bands across the body and grid patterns on the legs. The face is flat with a pointed nose and eyes inlaid with stone.

Funerary figure or grave effigy carved from a single piece of wood (pine or cedar?) of a man with an elaborate headdress seated on a throne. The clothing on the figure is indicated with carved bands across the body and grid patterns on the legs. The face is flat with a pointed nose and eyes inlaid with stone.

Image description

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Object reference number: RRM185601

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