TITLE: Dayak Hudoq
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Oceania
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Borneo
ETHNICITY: Dayak
DESCRIPTION: Hudoq Mask
CATALOG ID: OCID001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Purification
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Purification
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: wicker; nails; paint

The Hudoq is part of a ceremony to drive pests away from fields during planting season and ensure a fertile harvest. The Hudoqs, wearing brightly colored masks and costumes made from banana leaves, try to frighten the spectators, who represent pest-spirits.  As such, the more grotesque masks were favored.  Heavy bronze earrings would dangle from its ears to add further motion and sometimes noise to the Hudoq’s movements.  They were worn with a wicker cap filled with hornbill feathers (missing on this specimen) and held to the face using a bite stick. They dance in large groups to drums.

Hudoqs might also be enlisted by shamans for healing rituals, to scare away the source of illness.

Hudoqs take different forms.  This one is part hornbill and part demon, and is a well known mask type among the Dayak.

:

TITLE: Tibetan Shaman Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: China
SUBREGION: Tibet
ETHNICITY: Tibetan
DESCRIPTION: Shaman mask of three-toothed spirit
CATALOG ID: ASCN006
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Divination; Healing; Purification; Spirit Invocation
AGE: Unknown
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

Shamanic masks arise from animistic religious beliefs rather than Hindu or Buddhist influences.  The shamanic influence in Himalayan societies probably arrived from Mongolian nomadic invaders.  The aspiring shaman must depart the community and live in isolation to commune with nature spirits. If the aspirant succeeds, he or she returns to the village with supernatural powers to invoke ancestor and nature spirits that can be either malevolent or protective and turn them to the good of the community.  This gives the shaman healing and divination powers that are used in major life events, such as births, illness, marriage, or death.  Masks are worn during these ceremonies to help the shaman mediate between the material and spiritual worlds.

:

TITLE: Maonan Nuo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: China
SUBREGION: Guangxi
ETHNICITY: Maonan
DESCRIPTION: Nuo mask representing Erlang Shen (?)
CATALOG ID: ASCN002
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nuo Opera
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment; Healing; Purification
AGE: 1930s
MAIN MATERIAL: poplar or willow wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth strips

The Nuo opera in China may be traced back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE), possibly much earlier (some believe the Shang and Zhou Dynasties) and was popular in large parts of the empire, but especially along the southern borders, where it was a form of entertainment for the imperial troops. It evolved from a sacrificial rite performed by shamans into a more dramatic form, with both Buddhist and Taoist overtones. Nuo opera is based on historical stories and stories based on the Taoist religion and all roles (including female roles) are performed by men. It evolved into a popular form of entertainment and was eventually accompanied by an orchestra of Chinese instruments.  The Nuo opera never quite lost its shamanic connection, however, and also was used to exorcise evil spirits at the home of sick persons. The sacred connection is evident from a religious ceremony that always precedes the opening of a Nuo opera.  In addition, a wooden statue representing the originator of the opera is present at every performance, and nobody except the opera troupe may touch props used in the performance. Although the Chinese Communist Party attempted to suppress Nuo performances and eliminated it from most of the country, the opera continues to be performed in three southern provinces of China today (Guangxi, Guizhou, and Jiangxi).

The Maonan people form a relatively small ethnic group in China, confined largely to Guangxi province, and it is one of several ethnic groups that adopted Nuo opera deeply into its culture. This mask, with a hat typical of the Maonan people, probably represents a young god, possibly Erlang Shen, judging by the spiritual third eye in the forehead.

:

TITLE: Raï Mushroom Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Middle Hills
ETHNICITY: Raï
DESCRIPTION: Shamanic Kiranti arboreal mushroom mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP004
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: Fomes fomentarius arboreal mushroom
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

Among the Raï people of the Middle Hills region of Nepal, the shaman plays an important social role as the channeler of spirits for healing, purification, and protection of those under his supervision. Masks help the shaman embody one of the spirits that surround the living world and use it to heal the sick, drive away evil influences, and guide villagers through changes in their lives (birth, adulthood, changes in social status, death) that might be affected by the spirit world. When hung in a house, the mask serves a protective function.  The Raï people are known for making shamanic and house protective masks from the parasitic arboreal mushroom, Fomes fomentarius also known as tinder fungus.

:

TITLE: Songye Face Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo
ETHNICITY: Songye
DESCRIPTION: Bambudye Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCD017
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification; Secret Society; Social Control; War Preparation
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin

The Songye people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) are closely related to the Luba people of the same region.  Both use a variety of face masks for social control and village purification.  The Songye were formerly a warlike people and used their masks to frighten enemies, as well as to frighten away evil spirits from the village or from a sick individual plagued by them.  The masks are danced by secret societies to protect the village and are usually worn with a full body costume of raffia.  Songye masks are typically characterized by striations carved into the face, representing the facial scarification used by Songye warriors.

: