A marvellous human skull damaru with a patina commensurate with age and ritual use. This traditional damaru is adorned with a central silver band and mounted with antique coral and turquoise bead cabochons. The skulls are unusual in that they have been inlaid with bone plates (also likely to be human) in three different places. It is very unlikely that this inlay was only for decorative purposes. Whether this was an attempt to fill already existing holes or perhaps it had particular significance i.e the bone came from a revered Lama, it is very hard to say. What is clear is that this piece was once very important to someone and the inlay only adds to the story of the piece. In some way it makes this drum even more beautiful.
There is a dip or notch on one rim (see photo 7) that was clearly there at the time of manufacture and it was skinned accordingly. This in no way affects the sound of the drum. If the skull came from an important practitioner then even imperfect craniums would have been greatly valued. A 19th C skull damaru with a similar dip in the rim is also held in the British Museum collection.
One of the beaters appears to be original and one is obviously a later replacement.
The skins are still taut and the drum plays beautifully.
The chopen or tail is quite wonderful. It carries the grubbiness of age and handling which only adds to the overall charm of this piece. It has rows of small bells, and two rows of worn silver colonial coins acting as small mirrors or melongs. The jingle of the chopen sounds wonderful when swished around whilst playing the drum.
Provenance: Ex Molly van Loon Collection
Patina and weathering commensurate with age.
Age: Late 19th C/early 20th C
Origin: Tibet/ Himalayas
drum length = 5.4 inches
drum width = 5 inches
tail length = 21 inches