Handicrafts | Metal-Work


Object Title
Object Description

Amulet box

Gau, silver, fire-gilding, turquoise; size: 17 cm x 12 cm x 5,5 cm; loan from the National Museum, Paro
A gau, containing prayers, small statues of saints or relics, is worn around the neck for protection while traveling. This piece is made of filigreed and imbossed silver, which is finally partly engraved. Forged ornamental wires were soldered on at the indents on the piece. The precious stones are set in glueing wax.

>Making metal ornaments
Betel container

Container for betel (bata), silver with fire-gilding, coral; H: 9 cm, diameter: 20 cm; loan from a private collection
A container of this quality and size would have been used by the nobility and high clergy. Chewing betel is wide spread in all social strata, by men and women, who are very fond of the stimulating effect of the betel nut.

The coronation

Saddle, silver, filigreed and engraved, varnished wood, coral, leather, silk, cotton, padding; size: 26 cm x 47 cm x 40 cm; loan from the Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich
Saddle of a high aristocrat, most likely a member of the royal family. The front is decorated with a, frequently used and widespread as a decoration, group of dragons and Garuda*.

Administrative reform
A dungkar

Shell horn (dungkar), copper, silver, gilding, semi-precious stones; size: 55 cm x 29 cm x 11,5 cm; loan from the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool
The horn, made out of the shell of a sea snail, is mainly used to call the monks together for their prayers. The tone is said to be equal to the »pure ocean of wisdom» and to lead the believer to the understanding of the Buddhist teaching. The wing which is attached to the main body is decorated with a pair of dragons and framed by lotus motives. The dragons' eyes are set with lapis lazuli. In their claws they hold further precious stones.

Musical instruments
Seed container

Seed container (drubhor), silver with fire-gilding; H: 12 cm, diameter 8,5 cm; loan from a private collection
The skulls at the belly and lid of the container point to the eight types of meditation of the yogi. The handle is made out of half a vajra*. In the course of the ceremony the lama strews the seeds to bring blessing and happiness.

Metal torma

Torma (tshetor), silver with partial fire-gilding, corals, turquoise; 19th century; H: 38 cm, L: 19,5 cm; loan from the Paro Dzong
Sacrificial offering, which should give a long life. It is decorated by, amongst others, the eight Buddhist symbols of happiness and in the circular upper part the nuclear syllable hrih, of Amitayus*, is written in Lanza script. By reciting this syllable, Amitayus* takes on shape from the area of shapeless emptiness. On the top, there are the sun and the moon as symbols for wisdom and method.

Ritual dough figures
Vase used for Ritual Purposes

Bumpa, silver, partially fire-gilded, peacock feathers; 19th century; height 46 centimeters; on loan from Paro-Dzong
This type of vases, used for ritual purposes, is filled with perfumed water. The aspergillum runs out into a gold medallion. With this the Lama sprinkles the holy water or he dribbles it into the right hand of the believers.

Battle with Shelging Karpo

Garuda, excerpt of: horse jewelry; silver, fire-gilded, leather; height 48 centimeters, length 17 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum Paro
The jewelry for the head of a royal horse shows, next to the embellishment of Buddhist good luck symbols, dragons, phoenixes and the mythical bird of the gods, the Garuda. The Garuda is also seen as the protector of the Buddhist teachings. Usually he is portrayed with a snake god in his beak.

Battle with Shelging Karpo
Dagger (Dri Shubchen)

Blade: chrome-plated iron, handle: perforated gold, handle knob: iron with hammered on metal inlays, sheath: brass, perforated silver and gold; measurements 30 x 5 centimeters; on loan from the National Museum Paro
Bhutan is famous for its elaborately crafted daggers.

The Western Valleys
A stupa
Copper, silver with fire-gilding, set with corals, turquoise, emeralds and rubies; 17th century; H: 77 cm.; loan from the Thimphu Dzong
In many-layered symbolism, stupas represent full perfection, the cosmos as well as the mind of the Buddha. The architecture of stupas stands for the idea of the identity of macro- and microcosms and, in doing so, becomes a cosmological and psychological model. Quite often holy scriptures or relics of important saints or lamas are kept in stupas.
The development of the doctrine

The Vienna Exhibition
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