Metal and Stone Vestiges
Religion, Magic and Protection in the Art of Ancient Tibet
These thokcha anthropomorphs have similarly-shaped heads, legs, outward pointing feet, and arms held akimbo. These copper alloy amulets are attributed to the pre-Buddhist or early Buddhist period. They are reminiscent of personal guardian spirits such as the pholha, which are depicted on wood blocks (par shing) used to make dough and print figures of deities for various rituals. If indeed these metallic objects are functionally related to the petroglyph, it suggests that the stone carving is a rendition of a protective deity or charm. Even if the respective figures are not closely related, they nonetheless demonstrate how cognate forms developed in the diverse media of metal casting and rock carving.
all text & images © John Vincent Bellezza