TITLE: Raï Mushroom Mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
SUBREGION: Middle Hills
DESCRIPTION: Shamanic Mushroom Mask
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
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.