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This is a superlative example of the classic Buddhist dance mask, of a style that is typical of the antique masks of the Nepal / Tibet border region. It is in excellent condition with nice patination.

One common tradition among all the Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhists across the Himalayas and Tibet, is the important and well known  Buddhist ritual dance, known as "cham". Known to many as "Lama dances" these are characterized by monks or lamas dressed in elaborate costumes and wonderful masks that range in expression from the comical, to the sublime, to the horrific. This particular mask certainly leans towards the latter and is indeed quite menacing. It is wood with polychrome detailing, and the dancer wore the mask up and a bit back on the head using the leering, fanged mouth hole to peer out from.

The mask depicts a wrathful protective deity, whose aggressive countenance reflects his unwavering dedication to protecting the Buddhist Dharma and its adherents. In other words, these haughty gods and their retinues were bound by oath to serve Buddhism. To this day at certain points in the lunar calendar, monks and lamas don ornate robes and a variety of masks and perform meticulously choreographed tantric dances known as "cham" in Tibetan and related dialects. The purpose of these dances is two-fold, first, to pay tribute to the protector deities and the founders of Tibetan style Buddhism who bound them by oath in the first place (Padmasambhava). Secondly the dances invoke the protectors to obliterate obstacles and misfortune that might otherwise trouble the local community.


ITEM NAME:   Vajrayana Buddhist Mask
PRICE:   Email 
STATUS:    Available
PEOPLE/REGION:   Nepal / Tibet border zone


Wood with polychrome


Circa 19th  C.


8" wide
13" high

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Visa, American Express, Master Cards and Discover are accepted.


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