Exhibit Of The Month 35

Nava Durga puppet from Bhaktapur

Two views of a two-faced Nava Durga puppet from Bhaktapur in Nepal, but these are just two faces of the nine faces of the Nava Durga Goddesses.

The story goes that in a nearby forest the flesh eating Nava Durga goddesses lived. And no traveller was safe from their appetites.

Then one day a tantric priest found that he was to be their lunch. He pleaded to be allowed to worship for one last time, which plea the goddesses graciously allowed. His prayers and hymns were so hypnotic that they were, quite literally, petrified.

They cried for mercy and he enticed their spirits into dolls. He promised to dance praises to their images and they agreed as long as the worship was kept secret.

But one day as he danced their praises in a secret chamber in his house his second wife was staring at the spectacle through the key hole. With their all seeing eyes they saw their secret was a secret no more and burst out of the room wreaking havoc in their wake.

The priest followed with his drum trying to call them back and finally they agreed. But they made one condition; the priest would have to teach their dance to the Gatha caste and a mask festival would be held in public every year to sing their praises.

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