On Friday, March 21st, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art received a donation of 25 Zan Pars, Tibetan ritual objects, from Mr. Bill Jones of Paris, France. Mr. Jones is a travel industry professional with Geographic Expeditions and National Geographic and is an expert guide in the Himalayan regions of Tibet and Bhutan.
In September 2013, Mr. Jones led a group of Board, staff, supporters, and volunteers from the Tibetan Museum on a tour of Tibet which included the cities of Tse Dang, Lhasa, and Gyantse, and visits to the Jhokang Temple, the Potala Palace and Samye Monastery.
Zan Pars play a vital and important role as a ritual tool. The forms represented are exceedingly diverse and often show great dexterity in carving, especially in their depiction of the animal kingdom. There are representations of birds, beasts, reptiles, insects and fish. There are countless representations of deities and demons that rule over the sky, land and underworld.
Their origin is probably from the pre-Buddhist Bon tradition, though no early written evidence to support this can be found, it can be safely said that torma and dough effigies were being used in Tibet in the 8th Century. Zan Par images are typically used on an altar or in conjunction with a threadcross. The latter is a simple or complex construction of colored threads not dissimilar to the Native American dreamcatcher, the Lama then performs the appropriate ritual where the Zan Par images enter into the threadcross to symbolically remove all negativity.
This varied and unique collection of wooden (birch, hazel, walnut and fruit woods) has been gathered in the course of 30 years travelling in the Himalayan realm, many from lay priests whom I encountered on my journeys in remote regions whilst on pilgrimage or visiting festivals. It is a collection which merits greater study because so little is known of their real significance and indeed many museums have them wrongly catalogued. I hope that with this donation the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art can further the study and educational research into their use and aid our greater understanding of Tibetan ritual.
–Mr. Bill Jones
|Collection of ZanPars donated to Tibetan Museum||Bill Jones and Tserring Phuntsok examine ZanPars|