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Masterfully carved from human and animal bones, this elaborate bone apron would have been worn with a matching hat, a chest ornament, armbands, bracelets, and anklets during ritual dances and ceremonies associated with Tantric Buddhism.
The upper section of the apron consists of seven oblong bone pieces. Depicted on them are four-armed deities standing on lotus thrones and wearing long garlands made of human skulls. The deity depicted in the center has three heads and is standing on five corpses. This sacred apron is further decorated with double stands of bone beads interspersed with diamond-shaped ornaments carved with the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols. Bells are attached under the heads of guardian deities at the bottom edge.
“The significance of wearing such ornamentation symbolizes one’s own death and the necessary release of one’s attachment to the human physical body in order to effectively pursue enlightenment.”
Mumbai, India. Mr. and Mrs. Walter E. Wolf; through Mr. Walter E. Wolf, Jr. via Klineman, Rose and Wolf, Indianapolis; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (1992).