MASCARADES EN HIMALAYA SuiteMASCARADES EN HIMALAYA (Suite)

Les vertus du rire
par Pascale Dollfus et Gisèle Krauskopff.

Peut-on dissocier durant une fête les différents éléments de sa composante pour apporter des arguments à ses théories ?

Dans le chapitre Parodier la vie quotidienne les auteurs font abstraction, bien que citant l’article de Corneille Jest dans Objets et Mondes, de toute la partie du rituel liée à la vénération des ancêtres. Alors que la présence des yaks y est bien notée, elles font complétement abstraction de leur rôle dans l’origine du rituel ce qui peut remettre en cause l’aspect mascarade. Il n’est pas fait état non plus de la présence de ces masques, effigies d’ancêtres, exhibés à cette occasion pour être vénérés. Il faut dire que les auteurs au début du livre commencent (page 23) par un « En Himalaya les masques ne sont pas portés pour figurer les ancêtres, comme c’est le cas dans de nombreuses régions du monde ». Pas portés, certes, dans le cas présent mais utilisé oui.

Dans tout le livre on note que certains éléments de la fête sont exclus de l’analyse lorsque cela ne correspond pas à la théorie développée, comme par exemple la présence du masque d’Indra lors de la fête de Panga en 2011. Alors que ce dieu a une grande importance dans certains rituels newars, sa présence durant cette fête n’est ni reconnue, ni analysée par les auteurs, étant uniquement présenté comme Cuivre alors que son iconographie est parfaitement connue.

L’article sur les troupes itinérantes de danseurs illustré par une photographie de Michael Oppitz de 1981 laisse également perplexe. François Pannier avait noté dans la Lettre du Toit du Monde N° 7 Démasquons les masques himalayens l’absence d’étude sur ce cliché. Les auteurs font maintenant un développement sur celui-ci en se basant sur les travaux d’Anne de Sales publiés en 1986, qu’elles semblent découvrit à l’occasion de cette publication.

Lorsque l’on relit leurs déclarations sur la méconnaissance ou l’absence de masques reprises dans le livre de Bertrand Goy et Max Itzikovitz cela laisse rêveur et perplexe.

Je reviendrai ultérieurement sur l’admirable conclusion dans Le masque : une catégorie vide ? Où l’on trouve cette phrase « Le masque en soi n’existe pas » pour conclure un livre où il en est question.

Le début de ce chapitre commence d’ailleurs par « Le voyage que nous avons entrepris pour éclairer l’usage et la fonction du « masque primitif himalayen …».

Comme le livre traite à la fois de masques bouddhiques, de masques utilisés durant les représentations Rajdhari pour des représentations du Ramayana en particulier chez les Rajbamsi doit-on en déduire que tous ces masques sont considérés par les auteurs comme primitifs ? L’éclairage est bien obscure. Sans parler de l’usage de l’appellation Citipati pour les « Maîtres des Charniers » alors que l’un des auteurs, à l’issue du colloque de 2012, lorsque je lui parlais des Citipati, en niait l’existence. On se demande où est le vide.

A.M. 


 

Making facesMaking Faces . Self and Image Creation in a Himalayan Valley.

Alka Hingorani
Honolulu, University of Hawai Press, 2013.147 pages, index, ill.

The new book about the mohras, the masks or busts in metal (usually silver or brass) which represent the gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon explores a new aspect of the objects: how they are made by local artists. The author studied the region of Kullu (Himachal Pradesh)and the introduction gives a general frame about the history , the significance of Dashera festival in the local context and the time when the deities “travel”. The deities represented by mohras travel on the same ratha or palkhis (chariot) for few weeks. They have a collective identity and the author has emphasized that “the material and ritual biographies of such objects are important” (p.9).

Lire la suite

The first chapter The Object describes the mohras which according to the author should be translated - face image-‘s of the gods and goddesses ( devis and devata).In fact the mohras are never worn; they represent the faces of the gods and goddesss. Like the Hindu statues of gods each group of mohras is covered with cloth of red or yellow colours, embellished with jewels and flowers. Eight to twenty four mohra are on each ratha (chariot) and generally represent a single deity. The history and the style of the mohra are difficult questions and the author has no clear answer. The illustrations and descriptions with ancient mohra are from a French collection of Michel Postel who has published a book about mohra, Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh, Bombay, 1985 (see the note 13 page 118).

The second chapter The Process is about the methods and manufacture of mohras (face image) and the parasol (chhatri). The second chapter is the most interesting part of the book: it gives a lot of details about the manufacturing of the mohras and the chhatri and the author observed the work of the artisans. The author stresses the continuity of tradition of forms in manufacturing the metal objects. What is particular interesting is the description of the rituals performed before the making of the mohras : it begins with the sacrifice of a sheep, offered to the Sheh nag . “Sacrifice is a mediating act between the individual or group that performs it and the deity to whom is offered” (p.42).The sacrifice is meant to appease the deity and also serves to protect the entire community. These remarks about animal sacrifice for instance, during the festival of Dashera, are pertinent for other parts in North India.The oracle (gur) of the deity is present at the sacrifice and went into trance. According to the author “ …Possession is both power and belief” (p.44).The oracle has to decide when the animal is sacrificed ; the head of the animal is set in the space where the work of the artisans has to start. Fresh blood is sprinkled all around the site where the artisans will manufacture the objects so the space became a sacred area. “The object is not just a cultural symbol it is also a manifestation of artistic skill of the artisan”(51). It follows a detailed description of the techniques of making the parasol and of an embossed mohra. The author distinguished “two kinds of mohras both in terms of their importance in the hierarchy and how they are made” (p. 66).

The author is trying to explain the meaning of aesthetics for the local people how they perceive the object .The chapter Speaking of aesthetics is general and doesn’t explain the importance of forms and proportions for the statues and objects in Indian art. It is well known that in Indian art as well as in Himalayan art there are manuals which indicate the exact proportions and the colours for the statues of the Gods and Goddesses . For Nepal and Tibet the sketchbooks used by artisans have been published. We can understand that for the shape and size of the mohra the artisans follow the oral tradition. The question if a religious object can be an object of art has been discussed by anthropologists and art historians before the opening of Musée du Quai Branly, in Paris. Not only a statue but also a ritual object can be considered an art object. For local people a mohra is first a sacred object after the consecration ceremony. The author emphasized that “In the Kullu hills artists work for a village or a group of villages beholden to the same tutelary deity. More correctly, they work for the deity or devata, who rules over such groups of villages” (p.83). Here we understand the link between the religion, the objects representing the gods and the social life in Kullu.

The last chapter Artisans is discussing the position in the local society of artisans without any solid references to the publications about Indian society. It is mainly about the life of an itinerant artisan Taberam who is at the same time a story teller. More interesting is the Epilogue about the consecration of a new temple for a local god (instead of an “old god”(p.103) in Kullu.The rituals performed for the consecration of the temple are similar with the rituals conducted for the consecration of the mohra and parasol (chatri).

The most interesting part of the book is the detailed description of the rituals and manufacturing of the sacred objects. The illustrations are superb and help to understand the process of manufacturing the objects. Anne VERGATI, directeur de recherche honoraire, CNRS, Paris 

Anne VERGATI, directeur de recherche honoraire, CNRS, Paris


SUITES NEPALAISES

SUITES NEPALAISES

de Pierre Lemaire et Françoise Mahot

Livre déjà ancien mais que les tragiques évènements du Népal réactualise »

Disponible aux éditions Findakly
http://www.editionsfindakly.fr/

 


Exposition New DelhiCADENCE AND COUNTERPOINT

L’exposition sur les traditions de la musique des Santal dont nous avons fait état dans Informations Diverses a fait l’objet d’une publication :

Cadence and Counterpoint
Documenting Santal Musical Traditions, edited by Johannes, Marie-Eve Celio-Scheurer and Ruchira Ghose,

New Delhi: Niyogi Publishers 2015

ISBN: 978-93-83098-92-7 

 

Extrait du texte avec photographie de musiciens accompagnant un spectacle de marionnettes

Exposition New Delhi illustrationChadar Badar puppetry show

Written by Suanshu Khurana | New Delhi | Published on:April 23, 2015 12:00 am The story goes back to 1968, to Germany, when an Indian instrument — from near Shantiniketan, created at the turn of the 20th century by the Santal tribe — landed in illustrator and collector Bengt Fosshag’s living room. A present from a friend, he never thought it would turn into a collection of over 92 similar instruments, and find a home in the Museum Rietberg, Switzerland, in 2013. These pieces have now made their way home. It took a phone call by Rietberg director Johannes Beltz to Delhi’s Crafts Museum last year, which led to a search for the origins and creation of these rare masterpieces. This research has culminated in an exhibition titled“Cadence and Counterpoint” at Delhi’s National Museum.

Comprising rare photographs of music and dance and daily activities of the Santals, the largest tribe in India spread across West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam, the exhibition also showcases films, songs (including a recording from 1914), a variety of instruments and other research and documentation material collected over various periods by a variety of India photographers and documentarians. The exhibition, according to former Crafts Museum Chairperson Ruchira Ghose, “is an initiative to put together an important tangible and intangible heritage”. “I am extremely thrilled by the idea of this collaboration and how it has turned out. These are extremely important projects that need to be undertaken,” says Beltz. For the exhibition, Ghose has collaborated with Bhopal-based Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya that has donated over 27 instruments.

Initially when the instruments arrived, Ghose and her team didn’t know much about them. She organised a documentation programme by inviting Santal artistes to the Crafts Museum last December. Co-curator Marie-Eve Celio-Scheurer had worked with Ghose before. Soon they understood the complex process of the making and the music of instruments such as banam (a stringed instrument with a bowed monochord); tamak (a cup-shaped single-headed kettledrum); and tamdak (two-headed cylindrical drum). Many banams, which are not only known for producing interesting musical patterns through a single silk string but also for their remarkable sculpted bodies, are on display at the exhibit.

“Musical instruments are sacred to Santal traditions and most of them are gradually disappearing. While classical music has evolved, it has also retained its core. But in Santal music traditions, the foundations need to be documented. That will allow the continuation of the tradition,” says musicologist Jaishree Bose. There is a primitive nostalgia associated with their music, she says, because of their specific musical elements such as intonation patterns and rhythmic frames, one that was key in influencing music created by noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore and flute legend Pannalal Ghosh.

The exhibition also has photographs taken in Kamarbaudi, a village in Chhattisgarh by photographer Deben Bhattacharya, which show the Santals doing their daily chores of washing clothes, playing musical instruments, and …continued »