• India & Himalayas

    Tribal mask from Nepal Middle Hills

    A few days ago I posted a very nice Buddhist demon mask from Nepal. Here is one from a tribal group that resides in the Middle Hills region of rural Nepal and is much different. It would be used for shamanistic purposes and is carved in a primitive way. Paint is rarely used, and because it is stored hanging from the ceiling of a smoke-filled hut, has turned a greasy, dark brown. Even though it is very crude, masks like this have a strong appeal. There are several books on masks from the Middle Hills. Part of the charm of this mask is the way it has aged. Please enlarge…

  • India & Himalayas

    Himalayan demon mask

    Q:  What are you thoughts? Remind us what the red-wax seal means? It cleared Tibetan customs, right? But beyond that, do we know when they started and stopped using this type of seal? Was this seal essentially put onto everything? (i.e. a real antique and a tourist piece would both be given one of these?)  Nate, 1209 A:  Let me start with the red wax seal. The Nepalese customs department began taxing folk art items being sold to tourists and exporters in the middle 20th century. Masks got a seal on the rear. Then, around the beginning of the 21st, they stopped wasting time and money on this practice. I…

  • India & Himalayas

    From an island off the tip of India

      Q:  Went to a church Thrift Shop last week and they were having a half off sale on the “artwork”. Bought three Indonesian Masks for $20.00! The two smaller ones have real animal tusks (seven each mask)held to the masks with old finishing type nails, the ears attached the same way. Guessing they are definitely tourist-type masks. The largest mask is 10″ wide by 14 1/2″ high and is a one piece carving. Five cobras make up the top of the headdress and the ears are human heads. On the back appear to be missing attachments for the wearer for a head strap, also one hole through the top.…

  • India & Himalayas

    Hairy leather mask

    Q:  Here is a mask that I think is from Nepal. Can you tell me more about it?  Hans, 1203 A:  Masks made of hairy animal skin do show up occasionally in Nepal, Tibet, and even parts of Europe. I want to put this one on the blog because it projects so much character and, dare I say it, Satanic Power! Hopefully one of our viewers will add a comment.

  • India & Himalayas

    Old but still colorful Indian mask

    Q:  I bought this mask in San Francisco, California in the late 1990s for somewhere around $100 or so..I don’t remember exactly. It seemed old at the time, and I remember the merchant saying something about it being some kind of “ceremonial” mask but I forgot all that he said. Size is about person-size. Material seems to be some kind of plant material that was pressed or glued together, but I don’t know exactly. It isn’t solid wood but definitely a natural plant-based material of some sort.  Bruce, 1194 A:  “India is the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous nation in the world. It is a land that…

  • India & Himalayas

    Old, used mask from Nepal

    Q:  I took photos of these (quickly because it wasn’t allowed!) masks in a tiny museum in Bhaktapur, Nepal.  Amy, 1192 A:  The character is Indrayani, one of eight dancers in a performance of Bhairabs, the oldest and most famous drama in the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is where it started. In the nearby big city of Kathmandu you can buy lots of papier mache masks, but they won’t look anything like this one. I would guess it was made about 75 years ago. Please enlarge this hi-res scan so you can see the details. I don’t think this high quality work is done anymore. Amy– thanks for taking the risk!…

  • India & Himalayas

    Sri Balaram mask from India

    Sharon Lowen, a scholar and performer of Indian traditional dances, sent me this photo of Sri Balaram, a character from one of the Chhau dances in Purulia, and the brother of Krishna. It is an unused performance mask, 13″ x 10 1/2″ x 7″, collected in 1974 from a mask-maker at the Paus Mela Fair in Santineketan, Bengal. Its eyes are not opened yet because dancers do this themselves. Sharon will be in the United States for the first time in 5 years and have two days to disperse (or bring back to India) folk art collected in the 70’s and 80’s. If you have any friends in LA who…

  • India & Himalayas

    Nice mask from Sri Lanka

    Q: I bought this in a sale in the 1970’s and still don’t know where it came from or how old it might be. Since then it has been in my attic. Do you have any ideas?  Andrew, 1185 A:  This is a large Sri Lankan mask probably representing the demon, Maura Raksha. Do a little research on Google and you to learn more. I my opinion, it is a very decorative piece. It is probably 50-75 years old. Though it was never used, it is a great carving. Try getting the color restored… if it doesn’t cost too much. Enjoy this nice piece of art.  

  • India & Himalayas

    Indian mystery mask

    Q:  Interested in the origin of this mask and any information that would help. It is a heavy dark wood carving weighing 13 lbs, 23 x 12 x 7 1/2 inch.  Barry,1178 A: It’s always nice to know when, where and how you got the mask. In your case it may not be a mask because it is so large and heavy, and it is missing eye holes and any way of holding it to the head. Maybe it is an architectural detail. Then why is the rear so carefully scooped out and stained black? I would sure like to know more about this beautifully aged piece of sculpture. Hopefully…

  • India & Himalayas

    7 authentic masks from India

    Q:  We have a set of 7 old masks from India of papier mache. It would be great to know a little more about the origin, time and function. They are from 1920-30. Among the group there are different characters of various sizes. We sent the photograph of one of them. Probably all 7 come from the same dance. Thanks for your help beforehand.   Laia, 1149 A:  This is a splendid example of an authentic, used mask. Your photos are excellent. I love Indian masks so much I put a large picture of one on the cover of my book, Masks of the World. So I’m going to break the…