Q: I am currently backpacking through India, and in Jaisalmer I came across a curiosity shop of sorts. I purchased the two masks pictured. One looks almost identical to what you identify as a Nepalese monkey mask. My question is about the cow-looking one. I found a great pile of dusty and dirt-covered animal and humanoid masks that appeared related (see photo I took in the shop). Initially the shopkeeper told me they were used in a village play over 100 years ago and then the next day his brother said they were hung on houses as evil eyes. Obviously I can’t trust either story and was hoping you could shed some light on their origins. Will, 779
A: Thank you for your photos and comments. I decided to show the monkey mask because it is the best looking of the two. Neither appears to be native to that part of India, but from the northeastern states or Nepal. Perhaps they are associated with shamanism. Also there is the likelihood that everything in that pile was made for the tourist trade. Let’s hope a reader has something interesting to say.