~ Detail Photos ~

Here we have another example of how Nepalese people of the hinterland take an essential and ubiquitous item and turn it into a distinct and varied domestic art form. This is a scythe - the tool used for hand harvesting grain or other grasses. The main thing of interest here though is the carved holder. This one is very old and has a deep rich patina, which bears witness to years of use. A really nice example of this genre of domestic art.

What makes these kinds of objects most interesting to many collectors is what they say about the "culture of work". In industrialized high tech societies, we tend to clearly define boundaries between work and the more esoteric aspects of life such as spirituality and for the most part - aesthetic or artistic concerns. In traditional non-industrial societies we often see something else entirely. As here with this grass cutter's ornate sheath, or with the carved neti (butter churn handles), or with old ornately carved Himalayan drop spindles and spinning wheels - spiritual and aesthetic concerns are not divorced from mundane tasks and the tools that accomplish such work. How many of you have crafted a finely embellished sheath to store your weed whacker? How about doing a little bead or embroidery work on your attaché or brief case? Not even a little decorative etching or inlay work on the key board of your computer?

 No... usually in the modern west, these items are purely utilitarian. There is no investment of sacredness, esoteric value and certainly no attribution of any sentient quality, as we find in animist societies. The only exception tends to be that fraction of the Western population who give a personal name to their car, and indeed it is really only with automobiles that we see much in the way of ritualistic embellishment - maybe something hanging from the rear view mirror, or an icon or talisman sitting on the dash board. In more extraordinary examples we might see custom paint jobs, fancy wheels, and other modifications. Beyond the occasional vehicular anomaly though... western man does not invest his "tools" with animistic properties nor his labour with a spiritual quality that would justify any sort of artistic investment in his work objects. This says a great deal about our respective cultures and world view, and I'm afraid that what it says about Western life may not be all together flattering - though this is merely my opinion and one that may not be shared by too many people who don't have a significant interest in ethnographic matters.


ITEM NAME:   Nepal middle hills agricultural tool
PRICE:   Email 
STATUS:   Available


MATERIALS:    Metal. wood
AGE:    19th to early 20th C.

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