~ Detail photos ~

This is an excellent example of those masks that embody the transitional quality - mixing middle hills animist traits with classic Vajrayana iconography. The mask we are considering here is leaning  decidedly more into the realm of Vajrayana than some pieces from this transitional genre. This style, which is sort of a "best of both worlds" is a personal favorite.  This mask has some old loss to the left ear, but is other wise in great shape with fine patina.

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:   Sold
PEOPLE/REGION:   Nepal / Tibet border zone


Wood with polychrome


Circa 19th  C.


8" wide
13" high

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


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


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