Friday mystery object #119 answer


On Friday I gave you this object to identify:

I asked you what this is, what it’s for, how it works and where it’s from – no easy task based on the limited information available from the photo.

Nonetheless, through a process of group deduction you worked out that it’s a copper container that holds water and produces steam and it’s from Tibet. Pretty good going. The one thing that nobody got was the purpose of this object.

This ‘fire-bird’ is apparently used by Tibetan nomads to scare ghosts and spirits away from the campsite, which it does by producing a noise when the steam escapes from the ‘beak’ of the container as it sits on the embers of the fire.

I thought this would be a good mystery object for Halloween, since the most characteristic object of Halloween, the Jack-o-lantern, fulfils a similar role, albeit using a somewhat different mechanism. Happy Halloween!

A Jack o' Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003.

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