Description The surfaces of this silver and gilt box are richly embellished with symbols and mantras associated with the destruction of malevolent spirits. On the front is a symbolic representation of the protective female deity Lhamo. The precise function of the box within a ritual context is unknown, but it may have served as a storage container for other esoteric objects used within a tantric ritual. The inclusion of skulls as border motifs and the manacled creatures at either end are suggestive of both protection of the contents and the use of the box in purifying rites or exorcisms. The inscriptions include spells using Sanskrit words and Tibetan curses, such as, "May its voice sink in darkness and dissolve." Part of the ritual seems to have involved capturing the spirit, and part, subduing it. There may also be references to yogic activities, such as controlled-breathing exercises. The complexity of the decoration is indicative of a date in the 18th century, making this a relatively late example of the Tibetan tantric tradition.
- Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
Provenance Kathmandu, Nepal [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore, Winter 1983, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 2007, by gift.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2007
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