- Museum number
Carved wooden model gandau of seated female figure. Figure carved with ornate semi-circular shaped headdress with smaller figure at centre, and decorated with incised patterns. Prominent nose, bared teeth, and figure's eyes indicated with white stones. Necklace carved around figure's neck, below which a V shape and carved breasts. Incised pattern covering legs. Figure clasps tops of two vertical stands of the seat, there are two small knobs on the rear of the chair. Chair is carved with diamond-shaped decorations on the two front stands and geometric patterns around the sides and back. Very dark wood.
- Production date
Height: 55 centimetres
Weight: 4.50 kilograms
Width: 18 centimetres
Depth: 16 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Gandaus are traditionally carved by the Kalash people in Chitral, Pakistan. These figures are often carved from one piece of wood and take the form of the deceased. They are usually erected over the grave by the son of the individual who has died.
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).
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number