Coat from a Tibetan shaman’s costume, Bhaktapur, Nepal, collected 1986
This coat forms part of a Tibetan shaman’s costume. It was collected in Bhaktapur, Nepal, in 1986. It was acquired with a hat, bone necklace, medicine horn and hand bell (see 1987-716 pts 2, 3, 4 and 5). Costumes like this were worn during shamanic rituals, which are an integral part of traditional Tibetan medicine. In Tibetan medicine, many diseases are believed to be caused by malevolent spirits invading the body. These must be exorcised during religious rites performed by a shaman before affecting a cure. Tibetan medicine is over 2,000 years-old. It coexists in Nepal with medical systems such as local Sherpa practices, but also biomedicine. The coat was bought off a shaman who had travelled weeks to attend the Tibetan festival of Bodhnath. This takes place at the Great Buddhist Stupa (monument) in Kathmandu.
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Glossary: medicine man
The name given to the medical practice that is based on the sciences of the body, such as physiology (the functioning of the body).
Glossary: coat - garment
Main garment usually fitted to the upper body, extending below the hip line, open at the front or side and generally having sleeves. Also, similar outer garment worn for warmth or protection from the weather.