Bone necklace from a Tibetan medicine man’s costume

before 1986 in Nepal

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.


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

Cite this page


We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.

Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero

Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data


Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.