Detail Photos

The Himalayas are home to a very rich and diverse variety of tribal and shamanic art. Yet, this aspect of Himalayan culture is under appreciated and indeed, little known. The shamanic and tribal art of the Himalayas has only begun to make it presence felt in the tribal art world within the last 20 to 25 years. Even up to the present the fantastic tradition of middle hills art and ritual is constantly over shadowed by the better known Hindu and Buddhist art, for which the area is so renowned.

This old mask is the face of the "lato" or idiot / joker.  The trickster character that amuses and perhaps teaches basic social truths through his comical interaction during rituals by engaging with other masked characters and audience members.  The person who plays the lato in the village dramas will often be quite inebriated by performance time. For that matter, "performance time" is often not some specific, and well scripted part in the ritual, but rather whenever the whim to assume the role overtakes him.  Needless to say, an advanced state of intoxication can make one a natural for the role of "idiot" or fool.  Don't try this at home.  The fact is, the reason you find so many middle hills masks that are broken or repaired is because the maskers often get so drunk they fall over "breaking their face".  Of course its all part of the mad-capped hijinks and only serves to heighten the entertainment value for most of the village audience.

Please see the detail photos accessible from the link above.  The mask is in quite good shape, but does have a crack on the chin, and a repair to the back side at the top.  Neither of these diminish the comical countenance nor threaten the structural integrity of the piece.


ITEM NAME:   Himalayan Mask
PRICE:   Email 
PEOPLE/REGION:    Nepal middle hills -  Limbu people




mid  20th


6" wide
11" tall

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