India & Himalayas

Mystery mask. From India?

Q: I came across an unusual mask described as 19th Century Tibetan Polychrome Wooden and Cloth Wrapped Mask. Not sure of its origin and background. My first criteria is masks from places I visited in order to “feel” the circumstances to which they are attached, and then the closest possible to its use (that means used masks or made by local artisans). I have 62 masks from 14 countries of the 48 that I have visited, even though some of them do not have mask traditions. Any info that you can provide? Joao, 1611

A: I suspect this mask is from somewhere in the huge country of India or perhaps the island of Sri Lanka. But that is just a guess. I need more details. It helps if people asking me to identify a mask would included the who, what, when, where, why, and how much they paid for it. Even though you may find this boring, mundane information can often point me in new ethnographic directions. Please use the “Comments” box to send us more info.

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