Sherpa’s artwork shows how fortunes become meaningless


Kathmandu, June 6: Human beings are inevitably bound by the ultimate truth of mortality. While it’s natural for humans to fear death, none can evade its grasp.

 In the concept of death, artist Tashi Salaka Sherpa has prepared a meticulous installation art piece which is currently being showcased at the National Art Exhibition held at the Nepali Academy of Fine Arts.

The installation depicts a young man, around the age of 20 to 25 years, covered in tattoos, lying on a wooden pier.

 Visitors are often confused at first glance, unsure as if it is real or an artwork. Beside the dead body, there are symbols of money, gold, and fame, representing the achievements that humans must leave behind after death. People take pride in their fortunes and achievements, but these become meaningless in the face of death.

The title ‘Mari Lanu Ke Chha Ra’ conveys the notion that humans should not boast about their material possessions since they ultimately depart from them in death. Tashi, a tattoo artist, sculpted a human figure using silicone.

He said that the tattoos adorning the deceased body serve as a metaphor, illustrating that while individuals abandon their worldly accomplishments and riches, their tattoos persist with them even in death.

When asked why he made this form of art, Tashi said, “When I was making tattoos in my studio, people often came to get tattoos saying that while we leave everything behind, at least we have  tattoos in our body until it burns with us.” This inspired him to create tattoos with purpose.

He further added, “I used to perceive tattooing as merely a profession, but later I came to understand its profound significance. Historically, among the Tharu community, kings and aristocrats would often rape and abuse Tharu girls. To protect these girls from such atrocities, it became customary to carve marks, or tattoos, on their bodies. This practice served as a deterrent, as kings feared that harming tattooed women would lead to illness or other consequences. This historical incident enlightened me about the true value of tattoos. The tattoo was used as a form of protection, ultimately saving the lives of the girls.”

Initially, he has set the price at Rs. 1.5 million for the art, but now he doesn’t want to sell it, instead he wants to make this art available to many. 

 He said that the artwork required three months to finish. Initially, he moulded a human model, then crafted the art using silicone art using that model. 

What’s remarkable about this piece is that the human model is a real person who consented to be a part of the artwork.

 He also spent a lot of time drawing the tattoo art on it. Hair is also implanted. While observing Sherpa’s artwork, anyone can see the scene of the final cremation after death. He said the art was created to replicate that scene.

This eye widening piece of art not only received applause by the visitors but was also awarded the ‘Best Art Works ‘with a cash prize Rs. 60,000 at the National Fine Art Exhibition recently. 

This art was also showcased at the Bagmati Provincial Art Exhibition a few months ago.

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