India & Himalayas

Rare mask from Indian Himalayas

Q: This is a Faguli (Fagli) dance mask from Barot, Himachal Pradesh, India. Faguli is celebrated in many places throughout the Indian Himalayas to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The main theme is the victory of good over evil.

The man I acquired this mask from said it was made by his great grandfather, so it may be more than 90 years old. Lacking side holes to strap the mask on to wear during the dancing, I asked him how it was worn. He said you could strap cloth or cord through the eye holes and wear it that way.

I haven’t attended this festival, but I’ve watched a number of videos, and many of the men dancing with such masks simply hold them up to their faces while dancing, or hold them up in the air, occasionally bringing them down to their faces to dance. It is usually not an organized performance in most places, but rather like a sort of carnival where the men gather together with their masks and celebrate.

Given the weight of this mask (it is heavier than other Fagli masks I’ve seen) I think this was likely the manner in which it was danced, i.e. being held up occasionally to the face. In each village where Faguli is celebrated, it seems to be celebrated differently. David, 6113

A: This should be a pleasant surprise to many of our viewers. It is rare, authentic, and in good condition. If David’s provenance is considered accurate, there are museum curators who would love to get it. A

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