Bone necklace from a Tibetan medicine man’s costume, Nepal, collected 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.
Related Themes and Topics
Glossary: human remains
term created as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human hair'
Ornaments worn around the neck, usually in the form of chains or strands of beads, pearls, stones, or the like, and often including a suspended ornamental pendant. Use "chokers" for short, narrow necklaces worn close to the throat. Use "dog collars (necklaces)" for wide ornamental bands worn tightly around the neck.
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).