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Rossi & Rossi

Carpet of flayed man (g.yang gzhi)
c. 19th century
wool, cotton and dye
137 x 94 cm � 54 x 37 in

Like the previous two examples, this carpet presents a flayed man (g.yang gzhi), symmetrically arranged on a sea of blood (khrag mtsho). The powerful effigy has striking features�dark piercing eyes, scowling red lips, untidy beard, and prominent cheekbones. He wears large hoop earrings, and his thick hair stands up in symmetrical waves.

Tibetan paintings and painted furniture associated with worship of the protector deities often feature human skins as offerings.

L. Austine Waddell (1854-1938) observed a ceremony at Hemis monastery in Ladakh in which an offering to the protector deities was made of dough, �an image of a young lad�as life-like as possible.� Another foreign observer, Robert V. Ekvall, noted that among the offerings to the protector deities of a temple or monastery (mgon khang) are �the heads or stuffed skins of beasts of prey, game animals, and occasionally, stretched human skin with hair attached, as a memento of barbaric and bloodier rituals.� The carpet effigies of flayed humans (g.yang gzhi) in this catalogue may well have been used as offerings to the mgon khang, as seats in special meditations, or as effigies in ritual performances in honor of the protector deities, such as that witnessed by Waddell.

Published: Nathalie Bazin, Rituels Tibétains: Visions secrètes du Ve Dalaï Lama (Paris, 2002), pp. 174-75, no. 153.

all text, images � Rossi & Rossi


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