TITLE: Kali Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley (?)
ETHNICITY: Newar (?)
DESCRIPTION: Buddhist God Mask
CATALOG #: ASNP008
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Unknown, possible Nava Durga
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; woven cotton strap

Very little is known about this mask. It may come from the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley. It represents the goddess Kali.

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TITLE: Newar Lakhe Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley
ETHNICITY: Newar
DESCRIPTION: Lakhe Mask
CATALOG #: ASNP006
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nava Durga
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: mirror; adhesive; paint; cotton cloth; cotton batting; vegetable fiber; hardware

The Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley have a syncretic Hindu-Buddhist religious tradition.  They practice several kinds of masked dance for both sacred and dramatic purposes. Sacred masked dance such as Nava Durga illustrate the nine forms that the goddess Durga takes to fight demons (asura). Dancers belong to a secret society. Nava Durga masks are considered to be alive and are empowered with supernatural forces. Tantric Hindu priests renew the power of the masks each year by performing certain rituals and reciting secret mantras. As soon as the dancer puts their mask on over his face, he becomes possessed by the divinity the dancer represent. The various gods and animals and protect and purify the village.

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
YEAR PRINTED: 1976
VALUE: 10 paisa

This stamp was issued by the government of Nepal in 1976 to celebrate the masked Buddhist dance known as Lakhe. The Lakhe appears during festivals such as Yenya and is worshiped as a deity. He travels through the towns accompanied by a musical band, stopping to dance at crossroads and market squares. During the dance, a young boy (Jhyalincha) taunts the Lakhe into chasing him (shown on the stamp), but the boy always escapes into the crowd. This stamp is denominated 10 paisa, or 1/10th of Nepalese rupee.

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TITLE: Shamanic Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Middle Hills
ETHNICITY: Gurung or Magar
DESCRIPTION: Shamanic Mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP003
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 1890s-1920s
MAIN MATERIAL: smoked wood
OTHER MATERIALS: animal fat; animal hair; natural adhesive

This mask originates in the middle hills area of the Himalaya mountains, either from the Gurung or Magar people. Such masks are among the most primitive in use in the world, and are made by carving wood, coating it with yak butter fat, and charring it over a smoky fire.

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 Magar and Gurung people use very similar masks for identical purposes.

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TITLE: Citipati
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
ETHNICITY: Sherdukpen (?)
DESCRIPTION: Citipati (Lord of the Graveyard) Mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP007
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Cham Dance
AGE: late 19th century
MAIN MATERIAL: charred wood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Cham dance is a classical masked ritual performed by Himalayan Buddhist monks to celebrate the drupchens, or long ceremonies.  Each mask and costume signifies a god, demon, human or animal spirit, or clown that entertains as it instructs in religious history, mythology, and morality.

This mask represents Citipati, the Lords of the Funeral Pyre, who trace their origin not to Buddhism but the earlier Himalayan Bon religion, probably in the 8th century CE. Citipati supposedly originated as two ascetics who were so deep in meditation that they did not sense the thief who encountered and killed them. Citipati accordingly frequently appears in twin male and female guises. They protect the cemeteries.

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TITLE: Hindu-Buddhist God Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley (?)
ETHNICITY: Newar (?)
DESCRIPTION: Buddhist God Mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP005
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Unknown, possible Nava Durga
AGE: ca. 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: charred wood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

Very little is known about this mask. It may come from the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley. It represents a god with two faces, one displaying Buddhist calm and contentment, and the other protective ferocity.

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TITLE: Shamanic Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Middle Hills
ETHNICITY: Gurung or Magar
DESCRIPTION: Yak leather shamanic mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: mid-twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: scraped yak leather
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

This mask originates in the middle hills area of the Himalaya mountains, either from the Gurung or Magar people. Such masks are among the most primitive in use in the world, and are made by carving wood, coating it with yak butter fat, and charring it over a smoky fire.

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 Magar and Gurung people use very similar masks for identical purposes.

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TITLE: Shamanic Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Middle Hills
ETHNICITY: Gurung or Magar
DESCRIPTION: Shamanic Mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP009
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: mid-twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: charred wood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

This mask originates in the middle hills area of the Himalaya mountains, either from the Gurung or Magar people. Such masks are among the most primitive in use in the world, and are made by carving wood, coating it with yak butter fat, and charring it over a smoky fire.

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 Magar and Gurung people use very similar masks for identical purposes.

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TITLE: Kali Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
ETHNICITY: Tharu
DESCRIPTION: Kali (Durga) Mask
CATALOG ID: ASNP008
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Mahabharata Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: hardwood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Mahabharata is an ancient Hindu religious text that tells epic stories of heroes, gods, and demons from India’s storied past. The Mahabharata has inspired dance dramas through India and other countries influenced by Hinduism, including southern Nepal, where the Tharu and Rajbansi peoples live. These ethnic groups are closely related to their Indian neighbors.

This mask represents Kali, a god who leapt from Durga’s brow in order to kill certain demons, but became so battle raged that she began killing everything in her path until Shiva stopped her by throwing himself under her feet. Kali is considered another side of Durga, but destructive and evil, and so she appears black and ferocious, with her tongue hanging out in blood lust.

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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.

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