Metal and Stone Vestiges
Religion, Magic and Protection in the Art of Ancient Tibet
This exceptional red ochre pictograph is found on the prow of a rocky ridge facing east. It appears that this 50 cm high head was painted in the pre-Buddhist period. The pigment applications have undergone a high degree of exfoliation and browning, which reflect significant age. This particular image has been color enhanced in order to accent the pigment applications in the painting. In actuality, this pictograph is darker in color and much more obscured than what is presented here. In fact, unless the sunlight is just right, this pictograph remains virtually invisible even in close quarters. Unfortunately, some sections of the face have also been obliterated. Yet, the wide flattened eyes, broad nose and part of the mouth are discernable. The strong outline of the head tapers to a fairly narrow chin. Almost certainly, this face is that of a deity and it might betoken the guardian of the locale. Although petroglyphs of faces or masks are widespread in Mongolia and south Siberia, this composition is the only one to surface in Upper Tibet.
all text & images © John Vincent Bellezza