India & Himalayas

Citipati mask from Arunachal Pradesh, India

Here is one of my favorite Citipati masks. As you know the are made as pairs, the male and the female which are often difficult to differentiate. It is essential that the soul be able to laugh the frightening prospect of the hereafter and so, in their wisdom, monks turn dancing skeletons into clowns for comic relief at great masked performances.

I was lucky enough to manage to buy it at auction about 18 months ago. I paid less than half what I believe the mask to be worth. As you know, Himalayan masks have become very expensive, and Citipati masks are among the most favored by collectors.

The mask has a wonderful patina with some remnants of color, particularly in the eye sockets. The teeth have a slight break but it is an old break and adds to the character of the piece. There are a number of square holes around the top of the mask, probably for the insertion of additional small wooden skeletons. Usually 5. You can see distinctive gnawing marks from rats teeth , which rather than detracting from the mask, adds to the overall feel, patina and age. Michael, 1653

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