Nepalese Deities as Marionettes

KATHMANDU, Nepal — The sight of a Kathmandu vendor’s marionettes, juxtaposed against a backdrop of a billboard advertising broadband Internet, to me symbolized a glimpse of a culture straddling past, present and future in one simple vignette.

I recognized Ganesh, the elephantine deity of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, but not the other stringed figures, which represented the blending of faith and commerce in modern-day Nepal. They were all beautifully crafted, with handmade robes hemmed with gold-fringed cloth in colorful local designs, and topped with big, bold headdresses.

How I wished to bring one home as a reminder, a souvenir. But, alas, there was no room in my backpack, and I didn’t know where I might be heading next, nor whether such finely crafted artisanal work would survive such a trip.

The image, however, would live within me for a long time.



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