Yao Priest’s Stamps
Old and well worn, these two wood stamps were part of a Yao (Mien) priest’s complement of ritual objects. Other objects would have been a staff and various musical instruments- gongs, a drum, and knives with rattles. The small flat stamp is so old (our source suggested perhaps 200 years or more) and worn down that only ghosts remain of the horse images. The wood is light in weight, but dark with patina; vestiges of old Chinese red stamp ink appear on the end opposite the handle. The other stamp is a three-dimensional figure, and appears to be more recently made. Kneeling and with hands together in prayer, it wears a pointed collar around the shoulders and appears to perhaps be wearing a mask. It is unlike any Yao stamp we’ve seen. The stamp itself includes a continuous knot design surrounded by Chinese pictograms. This too is a most unusual group of motifs on a stamp. There are some very small, obscure Yao groups in Vietnam and these stamps could have come from one, or perhaps from nearby China.
Size: Figure: 4.25 in. x 2.5 in.; Flat stamp: 4.75 in. x 2 in.x .33 in.