India & Himalayas

Himalayan shaman’s mask

This Nepalese tribal mask is a crude version of a traditional Buddhist  monk’s.  A village shaman in the Middle Hills region of Nepal would have carved this hardwood by himself in order to perform healing, initiation and other rites. The underlying animist presence among shaman, which is clearly demonstrated here, is a significant contributing factor to the design of this mask. It shows evidence of having had much use, with a natural patina derived exclusively from being handled over many years. That’s animal hair glued to the chin. It is very old. The higher altitude of the Himalayan region greatly contributes to the preservation of wooden objects like this, whose age can far surpass those of similar objects coming from Africa, for example, where the extreme dampness in the lower altitudes can quickly rot them away.

My wife dislikes the primitive look of this mask– but I love it. How do you feel?


  • Chris

    I like it! Because it is so simple: Make three holes into a plank of wood and you have a face mask. It shows us also that you do not need a great deal of talent to carve something impressive. Of course, the appeal comes also from the beautiful dark stain/patina acquired by many years of smoky environment. It might appeal to us, but for the local peope to whom the mask belonged, this was certainly not a healthy thing. Cheers, Chris

  • Bob Ibold

    Thanks for your comments. You might want to know that Amazon has 3 books titled ”Masks of the Himalayas.” Cost are 15, 65 & 780 dollars. I have the first two and like them. There are no books in my library that cost as much as the third.

  • Chris

    Recently, a book about Buddist fresques was issued that costs about 10’000 USD haha 🙂 …so, the book on Buddist Nepalese mask is no matter.

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