Bone necklace from a Tibetan medicine man’s costume

Made:
before 1986 in Nepal
maker:
Unknown

Bone necklace, from Tibetan Shaman's costume, collected in Bhaktapur, Nepal, 1986

This bone necklace was part of a Tibetan shaman’s costume. Shamans are believed to hold the power to cure disease by contacting the spirit world. They often enter a trance-like state to discover why a person has fallen ill, and how they might cure it. Their physical appearance also impresses or intimidates spirits. Their costume marks them as an important person in the community.

A shaman ritual is just one medical tradition used in Tibet and Nepal. Others include biomedicine and Sherpa traditions. This costume was collected by a private collector while travelling through Kathmandu valley in Nepal. The collector literally bought the costume off the man’s back and donated it to the Science Museum. The costume was bought from shaman who had travelled weeks to attend the Tibetan festival of Bodhnath. This takes place at the Great Buddhist Stupa (monument) in Kathmandu.

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Object Number:
1987-716 Pt3
Materials:
bone, leather
Measurements:
overall (as shown in image): 18 mm x 320 mm x 93 mm, 0.156 kg
type:
necklace
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
  • jewellery

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