Khyah (legendary creature)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Painting showing Goddess Lakshmi and a pair of Khyahs (foreground).
Painting of a Khyah on a temple in Kathmandu.

Khyāh (Devanagari: ख्याः) (alternative spellings Khyā, Khyāk) (ख्याक) is a mythical humanoid creature in Nepalese folklore. It is depicted as a fat, hairy and short ape-like creature.

Khyahs appear in children's stories popular in Newar society. A friendly Khyah fills the home with goodness while bad ones bring trouble. A white Khyah is believed to bring good luck while a black one can create problems. Encountering a Khyah can make one ill.[1]

In Newar culture, Khyahs attend to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and pictures of the deity show them guarding overflowing bags of coins.[2][3] Household Khyahs usually dwell in the attic and dark storerooms. They are said to fear electric lighting.[4]

The antithesis of the Khyah is the Kawanchā, a skeleton.[5][6] Khyahs and Kawanchas appear as supporting characters in sacred dance dramas of the Newars.[7][8] Images of Khyahs and Kawanchas are also placed at temples as guardians of the shrine.

Khyah dance[edit]

During the Yenya festival in Kathmandu, dance performances are held at market squares and the Durbar Square where actors dressed in Khyah costumes give dance performances. The dances, known as Khyāh Pyākhan (ख्याः प्याखं), consist of antics and tumbling.

Types of Khyah[edit]

  • Bārāy Khyāh (बाराय् ख्याः) appears in rooms where girls are kept in seclusion during their rite of passage.[9]
  • Bhakun Gwārā Khyāh (भकुं ग्वारा ख्याः), literally football, rolls on the ground to move around.[10]
  • Dhāpalān Khyāh (धापलां ख्याः) is a very hairy Khyah.
  • Lanpan Khyāh (लँपं ख्याः) blocks people's way on dark streets.

In popular culture[edit]

This is a traditional children's song in Nepal Bhasa about Dhāpalān Khyāh used in singing games with the English translation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dietrich, Angela (1998). Tantric healing in the Kathmandu Valley: A comparative study of Hindu and Buddhist spiritual healing traditions in urban Nepalese society. Book Faith India. ISBN 8173031770, 9788173031779. Page 47.
  2. ^ Shrestha, Bal Gopal (July 2006). "The Svanti Festival: Victory over Death and the Renewal of the Ritual Cycle in Nepal". Contributions to Nepalese Studies. Center for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribbuvan University. Retrieved 22 July 2012.  Page 209.
  3. ^ Beer, Robert (2012). "Tibetan Buddhist & Newar Tantri Art". Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Nanzan Daigaku. Jinruigaku Kenkyūjo, Nanzan Shūkyō Bunka Kenkyūjo (1996). Asian folklore studies, Volume 55. Nanzan University Institute of Anthropology. ISBN 9057890984, 9789057890987. Page 266.
  5. ^ Koizumi, Fumio (1983). Dance and music in South Asian drama: Chhau, Mahākālī pyākhan and Yakshagāna. Academia Music.
  6. ^ Tambs-Lyche, Harald and Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France) (1999). The feminine sacred in South Asia. Manohar Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 8173042462, 9788173042461. Page 104.
  7. ^ "Khyak dance". Nepalese Dances. Retrieved 20 July 2012. 
  8. ^ van den Hoek, A. W. (2004). Caturmāsa: celebrations of death in Kathmandu, Nepal. CNWS Publications. ISBN 9057890984, 9789057890987. Page 57.
  9. ^ Gutschow, Niels and Michaels, Axel (2008). Growing Up: Hindu and Buddhist Initiation Rituals Among Newar Children in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3447057521, 9783447057523. Page 174.
  10. ^ Dietrich, Angela (1998). Tantric healing in the Kathmandu Valley: A comparative study of Hindu and Buddhist spiritual healing traditions in urban Nepalese society. Book Faith India. ISBN 8173031770, 9788173031779. Page 47.