• India & Himalayas

    Chhau mask needs headdress

    Q:  Here is one of the Chhau masks Karen gave me, sans headpiece or crown. Would appreciate anyone giving me an idea of how I can get a headpiece for the mask. Thanks, Mickey  1336 A:  Purulia, India, has a rich folk culture and is the birth place of the martial arts dance of Bengal called Chhau. In this tradition the dancers are men that are usually armed. This character is supposed to be a woman who would wear something pretty on her head. This missing headpiece could be purchased in India, but that is something I know nothing about? The cover photo of my book, Masks of the World,…

  • India & Himalayas

    Masks of the Himalayas

    Masks from the middle highlands of Nepal, usually crude in design and dark with age, have always appealed to educated collectors. Though the masks look rough (almost ugly), they have an artistic power that can’t be denied. This picture, which I found on the internet, is typical. The only unusual thing is the metal foil stuck to the mask’s forehead. Think about the mix of Hinduism and Buddhism, and how these very poor people must make their own masks.

  • India & Himalayas

    Jeweled bronze Mahakala

    Q:  I’m an art teacher and received this mask from my mother in law who had got it for me in an estate sale of someone who was a world traveler and collector of many things on his travels. I think it is Tibetan Buddhist but not sure. Masks aren’t my forte but I wanted to show my students.  Annie, 1307 A:  It could be Tibetan or Nepalese, but calling it Himalayan is accurate. It is a popular Buddhist god called Mahakala. Many of these masks are made of carved wood or papier mache instead of beautiful bronze embedded with brightly colored glass beads. As you can see on the…

  • India & Himalayas

    Himalayan mask of Mahakala

      Q:  I live in Paris and came across this mask a few weeks ago. It looks fine for the patina and the wear. Stylistically, it appears to come from Bhutan. Especially because of the bridge on the back of the mask that permit it to sit on top of the head allowing the dancer to look through the mouth of the mask. Sorry I do not have a side view. Any ideas? I am more into Buddhist art but collecting interesting masks once in a while. Many thanks for your help.  Steve, 1279 A: It’s a Mahakala and could be from Bhutan, Nepal or Tibet. The big question is whether…

  • India & Himalayas

    Common Sri Lankan mask

      Q:  Did you get my pictures I sent of my mask?  Candace, 1273 A:  It’s a typical mask from that island culture off the Southern coast of India. Most of the people are Sinhalese who emigrated many years ago from Northern India. Their traditions of masquerade are rich and still in practice today. Unfortunately, Candace has sent us low resolution photos, nothing of the rear, no size or other information. It’s impossible for me to say much about this piece. It could be old and used, or a cheap tourist reproduction that that has been antiqued. I do like the shot that shows the fangs and ears separated from…

  • India & Himalayas

    7 masks from the Kuchipudi theater in India

    Q:  We found these seven masks near the city of Barcelona and the price we paid was about € 2700. We were told they belonged to a collector and were worth much more.   Laia,  1263 A:  I like these masks very much so I decided to share the group photo with our viewers. However I have little access to material on Indian masks. I’m going to guess they represent some of the many Hindu gods that are characters in the Kuchipudi  theater.  They would be from the state of Andhra Pradesh. It sure would be nice to know if I’m correct.

  • India & Himalayas

    Black old man from Mongolia

    Q:  I recently bought a lot of various masks.  About 30 of them, most are probably made for tourists. Bought them from a lady who was moving out of the country (I’m from Argentina), so most of these are quite hard to find here. This one caught my eye. It’s clearly old, and it seems to fit the style of the Indonesian masks. The paint is naturally chipping, a big part of the horse hair it had is missing, and its made out of papier mache with some burlap backing it up. I’m in love with this piece simply because of its piercing, intimidating gaze, and for how old it…

  • India & Himalayas

    Mukaha mask from NE India

    This mask was made by an average person to save money, or make a little extra. Despite its crudeness, I like it a lot. I’m also happy to see, for the first time, a mask from Majuli, Assam. Even though masquerade is quite important in the world’s second largest country, I don’t get to see the masks or costumes very often. Nor do I know of any good book about them. If you know of such a book, please share the title and author’s name with us. Indian masks used by professional dancers can be fabulous. From Neroutes.com, Aug 19, 2016.

  • India & Himalayas

    Sinhalese mask from Sri Lanka

    Rrakasa Mask Sri Lanka Wood, pigment Early 20th Century 7 inches A stunning mask by any measure, this demon portrayal was used to heal through exorcism. Thomas Murray www.tmurrayarts.com I think it is important for collectors to know that the unique masks we think of as Sri Lankan comes from the Sinhalese people who occupy the southern and central parts of the island. A majority of Sinhalese people adhere to Theravada Buddhism rather than Hinduism.The origins of the Sri Lankan Civil War lie in the continuous political rancor between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils who live in the north. The roots of the modern conflict go back to…

  • India & Himalayas

    Another shaman’s mask from the Highlands

    Q:  Carved out of one piece, this mask was bought at a flea fair for £20.  Steve, 1217 A:  About two weeks ago I posted a shaman’s mask from Nepal. It has the same custom’s seal on its back that the previous one had. The Middle Highlands area of Nepal has several ethnic groups including the Rai, Gurung, Magar and Tharu. These people live in remote rural areas and are quite poor. Often their masks are crudely carved and have a dark patina.This mask is an example of that. Unfortunately, I can’t be sure of its authenticity. Save Save