Book Cover with Dough Mold (Sam Par) and Print Block (Par Shing) Interior
Artist/maker unknown, Tibetan
This book cover probably once contained medical-magical texts used to cure diseases, prevent misfortune, or exorcise malignant spirits. The smaller figures are molds (called sam par) for dough models of animals, auspicious symbols, and demons, while the larger ones of a man and woman (on the top left) are inked to print paper effigies. In ransom rituals used to placate malevolent spirits, the dough figures substitute for livestock and the paper prints stand in for actual supplicants. When performed properly, the spirits are believed to accept these dough and paper effigies instead of taking the lives of the actual beings.