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  • Antique Copper Bronze Chhapa Temple Stamps

    Made from a copper rich bronze alloy, these temple body stamps were made via the lost wax method of casting and are called Chhapa stamps, They originate in Orissa and Bengali temples, India - ca. 1900. These ones are most likely associated with Vishnu – the conch, the lotus and the disc.

    The stamps bear symbols or scripts related to particular Hindu deities, usually Vishnu or Shiva. The top supportive structure often terminates in a pierced finial, allowing related stamps to be held together by the priests on a cord or ring. However, note that our oldest stamp has a simple toggle hold.

    It is customary for Hindu temples in the east of India to mark the body of devotees with these stamps after the undertaking of a purifying bath, providing not only visual proof of devotion but to also transfer beneficence to the wearer. The stamps are dipped into a prepared white or red sandalwood paste, then applied to proscribed parts of the body such as the forehead, cheeks, shoulders, forearms and stomach.

    Similar stamps are illustrated in Traditional Jewelry of India, Utracht, O., Thames & Hudson, 1997 (p. 26) and may also be seen on display in the collection of the British Museum.