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This is an incredible and rare Nepalese mask - it is the visage of Jatayu, the vulture King from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.  This mask is a very creative and unique expression of the mask maker's genius and devotion to the heroes of the epic.  The body of the vulture covers the face, with eye holes carved into the breast.  The neck rises above.  Masks depicting Jatayu are rare, and when found they are normally only the face.  This mask showing the full body is remarkable and is a true mask connoisseur's piece.  The condition is good, with only expected wear to the paint and structure.

The Ramayana is the tale of the Hindu avatar Rama's search for his wife, Sita, who had been abducted by the asura or demon King Ravana.  When we find Jatayu in the story... the 60,000 year old bird king is battling the demon Ravana in an attempt to free Sita. Despite being blind, the might bird king still gives Ravana a sound thrashing... but in the end, Ravana turns the tables through treachery and kills the Vulture king.  Soon, Rama and his brother Lakshmana happen upon the dying bird King. The site of the old friend on the verge of death causes them great pain, and when Jatayu finally succumbs to his wounds, Rama eulogizes him as the "very embodiment of Bravery".

The Ramayana remains popular where ever Hinduism or its cultural influence is found - as far east as Thailand and Bali and naturally right here in the heartland of Hinduism on the sub-continent of which Nepal is a part. The Ramayana is a great story of epic scope and it has a cast of characters that includes gods, demons, armies of bears, monkeys and other fantastic creatures. Needless to say, these provide ample material for mask makers to fulfill their creative impulses. The masked performances provide an important spiritual diversion for the Tharu villagers and remain a popular aspect of Tharu community life up to the present.

ITEM NAME:   Southern Nepal Vulture Mask
PRICE:   Email 
PEOPLE/REGION:    Southern Nepal


Wood, polychrome


Early 20th C.



Please note the item number and kindly e-mail your inquiries.


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


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