• India & Himalayas

    Repro of old India mask

      Q:  I recently bought this mask (or wall art) from a auction and I don’t know anything about it. It looks old. If you could tell me who it is supposed to be and what region it comes from I would be pleased.  John, 1824 A:  You made a good find, if you didn’t pay too much. It is highly detailed and very entertaining. I think it is Indian, but am not sure. Let’s hope some of our viewers can help us with that. What I can tell you is that it was made by a talented carver for commercial  purposes. This kind of business now is growing all…

  • India & Himalayas

    Finding valuable masks is hard.

    Q:  I saw this at an antique store in Iowa. I’m curious, is it a valuable find?  Ashley, 1806 A:  It’s difficult for collectors as well as antique dealers to estimate the value of masks. The label on the side of this one says “tribal mask from the Philippines.” Actually, it’s from the Middle Highlands of Nepal in the Himalayas. That’s a bad start, but you managed to contact me. Now we can deal with age and authenticity. It would have been helpful if you had also sent scans of the side and rear views. Fortunately, your photo is hi-res, well lit and focused… and I have some knowledge of…

  • India & Himalayas

    Large, old Nepali mask

    Q:  Acquired this mask in Kerala, India, in the back warehouse of an antiques dealer. I found it highly unusual, as it features 2 Bhairavs (the wrathful manifestation of  Shiva ) topped with a carving of the Goddess Kali. I’ve seen many Bhairav masks, as well as double or triple Bhairav masks, but never with Kali at the crown. Undoubtedly Nepali, though I am unsure of the full meaning behind this combination. When I found it it was grey, but after some cleaning it revealed the two lower Bhairavs were red and blue. It is a large mask, measuring 30”  X  16”  X 7” deep.  David, 1798 A:  Thank you…

  • 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…