Fur-lined hat, from Tibetan Shaman's costume, collected in Bhaktapur, Nepal, 1986
A Tibetan shaman wore this fur-lined hat as part of his costume. It was worn underneath a paper crown. 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.