Indian Cast Brass Sectarian Body Stamp, Script Related To Deity, Shri Shri Radha Krishna, Bengal, India, 24.8 Grams
Navadwip, Nadia District, West Bengal:
This is an antique mid 19th century cast brass sectarian body stamps (chhapp). (A similar example is in the V & A Museum, London, No.04614B/(IS). In use by Vishnu Devotees (gokul sampradaya) and others, they are dipped into a past prepared of sandalwood, then pressed on the skin (some sandalwood residue is still present on this stamp.)
Sectarian body stamps have script related to a deity, usually Vishnu or Shiva.
This rectangular brass stamp ('chhapa') is inscribed in old Bengali script - Not Reversed: Shri Shri Radha Krishna' and is used by the Vaishnavites, particularly devotees of Chaitanya to imprint their bodies with divine names or attributes.
From the Vaishnava point of view the divine feminine energy (shakti) implies a divine source of energy, God or shaktiman. Radha has Her Krishna." As Krishna is believed to be the source of all manifestations of God, "Shri Radha, His consort, is the original source of all shaktis" or feminine manifestation of divine energy.
This is made by the lost wax process, which starts with the fabrication of an openwork wax wire model, from which the stamp was then cast in brass. At the back, opposite the face, a supporting, bracing structure was formed that terminated in a handle, pierced by a hole. This makes it possible to link together with a ring set of different stamps, the symbols on them chosen according to the sect preference.
It is customary for many Vaishnavite, Shaivite and other sect adherents to mark the body with such stamps. The marks on the body provide a visual display of the adherent’s devotion and also to transfer the beneficence of the deity to the wearer.
According to Oppi Untracht - Traditional Jewelery of India - 1997, Page 25, " The stamps are applied after the devotee has undergone a purifying bath. A paste of white sandalwood and water is then prepared in the case of Vaishnavites or in the case of Shaivites a paste of red sanders wood. The paste is then applied using the stamp to proscribed parts of the body such as the forehead, cheeks, shoulders, forearms and stomach."
Length: 8.5 cm (3 1/4")
Width: 2 cm (7/8")
Total Weight: 24.8 grams (0.875 oz.)