Kings of the Forest:
The Cultural Resilience of Himalayan Hunter-Gathers , by Jana Fortier, University of Hawaii Press, 2009.
Kings of the Forest. Jana Fortier
A hunter-gatherer society is one whose primary subsistence method involves the direct procurement of edible plants and animals from the wild, foraging and hunting without significant recourse to the domestication of either.
“There is no need for us to live like you.”
The RAUTE PEOPLE of the Karnali and Makahali regions of Western Nepal is a nomadic indigenous ethnic group, which population is estimated in around 650 persons, their language is classified as Tibeto-Burman, closely related to the one spoken by two related ethic groups, the Ban Raji and Raij , the closest documentated language to the Raute is probably the Chepang, spoken by this ethnic group of West-Central Nepal. Officially recongnized by the Nepalese Government, the Raute are known for their life-subsistence linked with the hunting of macaque, langur monkeys, bats, porcoupine, and the gathering of wild forest tubers, fruits, and greens. To obtain grain, iron and cloths they trade handmade typical wooden bowls and boxes to the local farmers. The Raute however don’t sell other products of the forest, bushmeat or forest medicinal plants.
In the present world this last primitive hunter-gatherer society living in the monsoons rainforest of Western Nepal struggles with the deforestation and encroachment, language loss, political domination by surrounding communities. The book explores how this ethnic group is tryong to maintain its traditional way of life .
MASQUES de l’HIMALAYA ,
Martigny – Valais – Suisse 16 May 2009 a fin Decembre 2010 – Fondation Bernard et Caroline de Watteville Fondation a but culturel.
Rue du Levant 34 1920 Martigny Tel. 41 (0) 27 720 49 20
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-Shamans holding Dhyangro drums, Rasuwa Disrict.
Photo courtesy Ujjwal Pyakurel “Prayas” Katmandu Nepal.
-JAI PURNIMA FESTIVAL PATAN. Photos courtesy Vincent Van den Berg http://web.mac.com/vincentvandenberg/shi/Index.html .
-The nepalese shaman is the bridge, the link and mediator between the real and invisible world.
The double sided membrane drum Dhjangro is the peculiar, indispensable, and one of the most important, pharaphernalia of the western nepal shamans.
Small metal objects and seeds are hooked inside the drum.
The drumstick is named Gajo.
A rich group of phurba daggers and Dhyangro handles is edited in Art Chamanique Népalais, Editions Findakly, Catalogue of the exhibition Masques & Arts Tribaux Himalayens, Galerie Le Toit Du Monde Paris 2007. http://www.letoitdumonde.net/actualites/index.html
Other items are present in Art Tribal Du Nepal, Les Editions Errance, Catalogue of the omonimous exhition at the Ile Du Demon Galerie, 1981 Paris.
The handle of the drum has the same iconogrphy of another ‘weapon’ of the Nepalese shamans, the ritual and talismanic dagger named in Tibetan phurba and in Sanskrit Kila, used to restrain evil entity and harmful occult influences.
The iconography of the Dhyangro handle can vary from one local group to another, from the geometric to the more elaborate and figurated style.
According the research of Mr Michael Oppitz this kind of artifact is an exception among the normal iconography of the Asian shamans drums, in which we can find the prevalence of single-faced streched frame drums.
The single-faced shamanic’s drum is diffused also in Nepal, Mr Oppitz divides the localization of these drums in three regional and local categories: the Dhaulagiri type localized among the North Magar Shamans, the Chantel, Bhuja Khola and the Kami of the Jajarkot district; a second tipology diffused in the Annapurna area and used by the Thakali and Gurung shamans; a third kind called of the “jungle” charachteristic of the Chepang shamans. (‘The metamorphosis of a Ritual object’ in Art Chamanique Népalais, Editions Findakly, Catalogue of the exhibition Masques & Arts Tribaux Himalayens, Galerie Le Toit Du Monde Paris 2007.
The double sided drum Dhyangro has a close morphological, but not iconographic, affinity with the analogous double sided tibetan drum called NGA-CHEN in which we can re-find an handle, in a form of lotus, installed in the wodden frame of this double sided instrument.
According Mr Eric Chazot some shamans of the western Nepal don’t use the drum themselves, so the musical accompaniment, essential for the trance, is provided by the untouchables (Art and Shamanism in the Himalayas, on Tribal Arts, 1:1/2000) http://www.tribalarts.com/feature/himalayas/
In the two following pics an assistant of the shaman hold an holy vase bumba.
The top section of the Phurbus/Dhyangro handle is normally constituted of three faces with different expressions representing human emotions: one wrathful, one indifferent, the third Joyful.
A Vajra (in Sanskrit or rdo-rje in Tibetan) or thunderbolt-diamond is carved in the central part of the item held in place by “eternal knots”. On the top of the triangular blade of the Dhyangro handle/phurba we can normally find the representation of the sea-divinity named Makara (in sanskrit,chu-srin in Tibetan) a monster half crocodile and half elephant. Seldom the makara is replaced with the effigy of Garuda or like in one example of our collection by the really geometric representation of a ram-head. Rarely by anthropomorphic figures. In one piece of our collection the makara figure is ‘crowned’ with three human primitive faces.
According to Mr Francoise Pannier the central structure of the item, in which the Vajra is positioned vertically above the skull of the Makara could recall the myth of Indra freeing the waters of the earth and killing the serpent Vritra who had stolen all the water of the world (‘Phurbu, Un hypothese sur ses origines’ in Art Chamanique Népalais, Editions Findakly, Catalogue of the exhibition Masques & Arts Tribaux Himalayens, Galerie Le Toit Du Monde Paris 2007). http://www.letoitdumonde.net/actualites/index.html
The blade bursts from the jaws of the Makara and has a three sided strucure, in which are traditionally carved single or entwined pairs of snakes (naga in sanskrit, klu in Tibetan). Their talismanic presence gave to the item the power to make it rain, they are also the guardians of the water and of the undeworld.
Others subjects carved on the singles blades are the moon and the sun, the trident (Trisul) symbol of the God Shiva, representation of shamans in namaste posture or holding a Dhyangro, the ritual vase bumba, the water bowls etc.
For an iconographic’s anthology of bumba simbols see on ART CHAMANIQUE NEPALAIS – NEPALESE SHAMANIC ART, pag. 80/81 Editions Findakly 2007. http://www.letoitdumonde.net/actualites/index.html
-Faces of Devotion, Indian Sculpture From the Figiel Collection On view April 10, 2010 to January 16, 2012 Peabody Essex Museum (MA)
The Peabody Essex Museum (MA) recently acquired the Dr. Leo Figiel Collection of Indian sculpture––widely-regarded as the finest collection of its kind.
This exhibition presents a dramatic selection of ritual bronzes spanning the last millennium featuring depictions of deified heroes, pastoral gods and goddesses, and totemic animal spirits. These bronzes were principally made for Hindu ritual practice in the west and southwest regions of India and are the best examples of local and vernacular artistry. A complement to neighboring galleries of traditional and contemporary Indian art, this exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the connections between India’s artistic past and present.