- Museum number
Wooden mould used for making ritual effigies (zan par) from Tibet. A long mould of octagonal section, carved at each end, and on each of its eight faces. One end houses a carving of a tent while its opposite end is carved with an image of a stupa flanked by prayer flags. Two larger sides of the mould have figures carved onto them, one of which appears to be a woman, the other a lama. The female figure is accompanied by two sets of trigrams and a naga figure while the opposing face with the lama has four smaller figures, two of which stand side by side. The other two appear to be dancing. A small bull is carved below the lama .
The other six faces are carved with series of animals (animals of the earth), birds (animals of the air), animal-headed deities and auspicious symbols including an astronomical sequence of Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Rahu (the eclipse).
- Production date
- 20thC (Probably, though there has never been any study of the chronology of this type of material.)
Length: 25 centimetres
- Curator's comments
"Such woodblocks are used for the production of substitute effigies in rituals of exorcism in the Tibetan cultural zone, from the Himalaya regions of India right through western China and into Mongolia and Siberia (see Fleminmg 2001). The imagery is varied and includes depictions of minor deities, both India-derived examples (eg naga) and local, pre-Buddhist examples, which often have animal heads. Also included, on account of their auspicious character, are astrological signs (often Chinese) such as the trigrams, and astronomical signs (usually Indian). Both exorcismn and protection can, in the Tibetan tradition, be provided by ritual which includes the use of effigies made of barley flour or of butter pressed from moulds such as these, and used in conjuction with thread-crosses (an example exists in the Museum collection). Evil felt to be present in either a situation or in some body (ie illness) can be transferred into these small effigies, taken away and then burnt. The moulds thus play an important part in evryday Tibetan life. These objects therefore have an important part to play in our presentation of Tibetan civilisation to the public and while other examples do exist in the collection, none are as fine or have such varied imagery as do these two". (T Richard Blurton)
For comparable examples, see Zara Fleming, "An Introduction to Zan par", 'The Tibet Journal', 2001, pp.197-216, and Rene du Nebesky-Wojkowitz, 'Oracles and Demons of Tibet. The Cult and Iconography of Tibetan Protective Deities' (1956), pp. 362-8.
- Not on display
- Good: while all three (wooden moulds) have undoubtedly been used as the butter-laden patina indicates, yet the carving is still clear and sharp which in older, heavily used examples, tends not to be the case.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Bought by the vendor in Kathmandu.
- Registration number