This spring the Community History Team at Leeds Museums and Galleries are working with a Peer Support Group, and colleagues from the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the topic of Magic and Mystery. On Tuesday we took a quick look at the ritual practices in Tibet, as Tibetan religious art is famous for its use of human bone – usually the bone of respected priests and abbots, who have shown special spiritual powers during their life-times.
A star item was this mounted skull cup, or Kapala, one of two in the collections (the other was shown in the recent Treasured exhibition at Leeds City Museum, see the detail on the poster). On this cup you can see the human cranium clearly, sitting on the triangular brass stand beneath the encased cover (whose handle knob is now missing). The cover is rather battered but you can still see deity images and key words in Lautsa script round the sides. The cup was found in a Bradford attic in 1962 and taken to Mr S Jackson at Bradford Museum, who gave it to a Mr K Wilson, in Ilkley, to take in to Abbey House Museum. It is amazingly similar to one at the British Museum http://goo.gl/UH2oO.
sterious in a different way is this masquerade set, supposedly from the Himalayas, purchased by the museum from Ye Olde Antique Shop, Denholme, in 1975. But if you look closely many aspects of these items reflect a more European style, possibly of New Age performance of belief.
We are not sure which character the mask represents, or which dance or performance it would have been worn for. The owner of the antique shop who sold the objects to us described the set as a 'Devil Dancer's Outfit'. Here is a link to a video of a cham dance from the Bon (pagan) faith http://goo.gl/Uamsd, if you want to compare this mask set from some modern versions in performance. It’s all very intriguing and if you have ever come across a similar mask set, do let us know.
June always carries a tiny horse’s head of gilt lead in her purse, she has had it for many decades – a gypsy sold it to her when she was 15. A tiny horseshoe was there too, but it dropped out. She also has a silver lucky charm bracelet, which belonged to her mother.
Trevor used his grandfather’s watch in every exam. It was a good time-keeper, as his grandad was a railway man. His mother had a small coffin with an image of someone laid out inside it. She kept it locked away in a box, and told Trevor that if the image inside ever came out of the coffin a close family member would die.