Shamanistic Carved Wooden Figure - Western Nepal
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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Indian Subcontinent: Himalayas: Pre 1900: item # 530486
Please refer to our stock # 12905 when inquiring.
Ipswich, Massachusetts 01938
Shamanism is still widely practiced in the mountain villages of Nepal, and in
western Nepal it spawned the development of the form of tribal art we are
featurning here. Figurative statues mostly of wood but also of stone were
carved for a number of purposes associated with shamanism. Some were
made to guard the house, some the community, some the local temple,
and yet others to protect a bridge or a spring or some other natural
feature. Some were found outside, sometimes buried in the mud of
flat-roofed houses, and others were kept inside in temples or special
shelters to house deceased ancestors. Some are extremely old and
some are more recent, but none of the ones we will be featuring were
made for any purpose but for local use.
Much of the area from which these wooden figures originated has been firmly under the control of the Nepalese Maoists, who have done their best to stamp out the practice of religion. As a result, many have found their way to market rather than be destroyed. We will be showing several of these figures in the next few offerings at Himalayan Antiques.
This figure stands 22-1/2 inches tall. As can be seen in the photographs it is very worn. It was an inside figure, but many of the temples had very leaky roofs, allowing for this kind of wear. It is probably extremely old. Traces of kaolin appear as white on the surface of the figure.
The very likely explanation of the large figure holding the small figure is that the large one represents a god taking spiritual possession of the shaman, represented almost as a baby in the arms of an adult.