Kafiristan Figure

KOC-0215-4_f_  -KOC-0215-4_v_  -KOC-0215-4_b_  KOC-0215-4_34p_

KOK 0215-4

Kafiristan Memorial Figure, Kafiristan (now part of Afghanistan).

This is a very rare and interesting memorial figure from Kafiristan, a place surrounded by mystery, which not many people know about. It became an independent country in 1896 named after the word ‘kafir’, which means ‘the unbelievers’ – one who does not believe in Allah. After the emirates of Afghanistan had destroyed temples, idols, and killed all priests, they had ensured that the Kafirans converted to Islam. Kafiristan was then renamed ‘Nuristan’ which translates to ‘the enlightened country’ and then became a province in northern Afghanistan. Kafiristan is situated in the northeast corner of Afghanistan on the southern slope of the Hindu Kush Mountains, and bounded on the south by the Kabul River.

Sir George Scott Robertson wrote the first book about the Kafirans in Hindu Kush in 1890. Robertson was an officer in the English army and became known by defending the fortress of Citral against Afghan attackers. After this he was titled Lord and became deeply facinated by the Kafirans. Perhaps it was this event that inspired the author Rudyard Kipling to write the book “The Man Who Would Be King”, later filmed by John Huston with Sean Connery and Michael Caine from 1975. In the movie these Kafiristan Memorial Figure appears in a scene.

These figures were made in honor of deceased persons and should be raised within two years after the deceased has passed away. However, most of these tombs are now gone. They were burned and destroyed, because Islam prohibits images of people.

Age: Est. early 20th Century.  

Condition: Despite age and its original use in the open landscape, the figure is in good condition. There are small sags here and there, which only give the figure more character.

Provenance: The figure was brought to Denmark by a Danish explorer in the 1950s or early 1960s and since assessed the authenticity by Kafiristan experts at the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus by, among other things, ‘wood samples’, which indicate that the wood is the same variety as the ‘Tax-trees’ (Taxus baccata) also called the ‘Kemo-tree’ that grows in this specific mountain area.

Dimensions: H: 124 cm (49″)

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