• India & Himalayas

    Valuable Kolam mask

    Q: I had had this mask for over 35 years. My mother-in-law gave it to me from the estate of her mother-in-law, if I remember correctly. She said it was quite old when she gave it to me 35 years ago. She thought it was a Korean mask, but she was unsure of its provenance and how or when it was acquired. Her mother in law was a interior designer from the 1930’s or so, from Santa Rosa, CA, but she traveled the world, so it could have come from anywhere. Catherine, 1771 A: This is a Kolam mask from Sri Lanka, the largest island in the Indian Ocean. The…

  • India & Himalayas

    Chhau masks are used by millions

    Collectors, galleries and museums are just beginning to discover the importance of this Indian folk art. Chhau has long been very popular. For years the people of Purulia in West Bengal have been making masks used in the Chhau dance — a semi-classical tribal dance of eastern India listed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as intangible cultural heritage of humanity. You might want to take a look at what we posted Feb 25, 2019:https://masksoftheworld.com/chhau-mask-from-purulia-india/ There are many different characters in the Chhau ceremonies. On this page we have three: a lion, the goddess Durga and a male demon. The pandemic that now plagues the entire world…

  • India & Himalayas

    Photo of Ganesha in use

    I really enjoy this picture. Is it a person or a statue on a raft? Devotees carry an idol of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha, the deity of prosperity, for immersion into the Arabian Sea on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, India. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day Hindu festival taking place in India and observed around the world. The occasion, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi, honors the arrival on earth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god said to bring wisdom and remove obstacles from the paths of the lives of true believers. It commences with the fourth day of the waxing moon…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old man mask from NE India

    This is an old man character used in a Buddhist cham ceremony. It comes from the Monpa area in Arunachal Pradesh, in northeast India. Obviously old and used many times by the monks, it is rare in style and something a museum would want to own. 11 inches high. Wikipedia has this to say. The cham dance is a lively masked and costumed dance associated with some sects of Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist festivals. The dance is accompanied by music played by monks using traditional Tibetan musical instruments. The dances often offer moral instruction relating to compassion for sentient beings and are held to bring merit to all who perceive…

  • 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,…

  • India & Himalayas

    Contempororary Kali masks from India

    Q: I acquired this mask from a Nepali in India. It is a decorative mask, but very beautiful. I have not encountered another Kali mask like this one. It is hand-carved and hand-painted, and measures roughly 32″ from top to bottom. David, 1710 A: Two years ago (3/26/2018) we posted two traditional Kali masks from the last century. We know that art is beginning to go out of style, but there are still places where masquerade continues to thrive. Many are in India. David has sent a fine example, and I found two others on Google. As folk art continues, notice that it evolves with newer designs and materials. These…

  • India & Himalayas

    Primitive Himalayan mask

    Q: This mask was acquired from Himachal Pradesh, India, from the granddaughter of the Tibetan man who collected it. It was acquired by him more than 60 years ago, allegedly in Tibet. It is certainly a Himalayan mask, though whether it comes from Tibet or Nepal I’m unsure. It resembles some Magar shamanic masks, but it might also be a Cham mask, of a comic ancillary character that performs between dance routines. I lean towards the former. But any commentary is welcome. The mask is made of wood and very old. The hair on the scalp might be human or yak. David, 1697 A: The mask I posted for you…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old mask from Himachal, India

    Q: This mask was acquired in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is made of very light-weight wood, and has two cracks that have been repaired. It looks to be from somewhere in the Indian Himalayas, likely Himachal or Uttarakhand, but I’m not sure exactly where, or for what purpose the mask was made. It might be related to Faguli. David, 1696 A: Here is what Wikipedia says: The traditional dances of Himachal Pradesh are varied and complicated. These dances are a vital part of tribal life. It reflects the culture and the tradition of Himachal. Hardly any festivity there is celebrated without dancing. Dance forms such as Nati are performed all…

  • India & Himalayas

    Primitive Himalayan mask

    Q: I recently acquired 4 masks from a tiny antique shop in Mcleod Ganj, India. The woman selling them didn’t have much of an idea about them. She claimed they were collected by her grandfather, in Tibet. My wife speaks is Tibetan and spoke with her about them. She said she had around 300 to begin with, but now all were gone save a few. I would like to send you all four of those I purchase. The first here I paid USD$40. David, 1674 A: This is a carved wood mask to be used for Buddhist ritual dance in Nepal or Southern Tibet. It may have been worn a…

  • India & Himalayas

    Garuda mask from India or the Himalayas

    Q: Sending pictures. It’s probably not valuable, but it is very unique. I look forward to hearing back from you. Vicky, 1666 A: Garuda is the bird god, an important character in both Buddhist and Hindu mythologies. It is based on huge eagle who rules the sun and skies. He can capture anything he wants with his powerful claws. Wearing these masks costumed dancers perform religious ceremonies in several Asian countries. Your papier mache mask is good looking and traditional in style. I’m guessing the height is about one foot. It could have been used, but was likely made for tourists and collectors. Could you share with us in the…