I asked my friend Govinda Sah, a Nepali painter based in London, about the bandaged figures of gods I had seen in some sculpture shops in Patan.
The best figures, he told me, the ones with more chances to successfully incarnate a god or goddess, are protected in this way to keep their aura. Once bought, they will be taken away by their new owners and, through long sessions of prayer, charged with enough power to be, at last, publicly displayed.
(He also told me that serious traditional sculptors may paint the eyes of the gods at midnight before a new moon, in full darkness, to better protect them from the light when they first open.)
Sculptures of gods are not representations of distant entities. They embody them, here and now, and are exposed to the material dangers and conditions of the world. They partake in everyday life and are regularly covered in layer upon layer of colour, offered food and flowers and darkened by the smoke of ghee candles.
The remains of faith and adoration are everywhere, piling up with all the other debris generated by the city. The life of the spirit leaves a very physical trail behind.
Robert Cervera Amblar
Sculpture, installation, writing.