TITLE: Lhakarpo Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Bhutan
SUBREGION: Western Bhutan
ETHNICITY: Ngalop
DESCRIPTION: Lhakarpo Mask
MAKER: Dwha Tshering, Thimpu
CEREMONY: Cham Dance
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment; Social Control
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The Ngalop people inhabit western and central Bhutan and are originally of Tibetan origin. The ethnic group includes an estimated 710,000 persons.  The Ngalop are primarily Tibetan Buddhist, and their masks are typically worn at monastery celebrations known as Cham Dances to bless the sowing of the grain, pray for a bountiful harvest, and entertain the public.  This mask, representing the god Lhakarpo, who accompanies the god Choekyi Gyab (also known as Yama), the Lord of Death. Lhakarpo, who lived among men, assists Choekyi Gyab in judging the souls of the dead according to their good and evil deeds to determine how they will be reincarnated. Lhakarpo is considered the incarnation of good and advocate for mankind’s virtues. Along with his demonic counterpart, Due Nagpo (or Dey Nakchuag), he dances during and acts out morality plays for the education of the audience in Buddhist theology in the Raksha Mangcham, the Dance of the Judgment of the Dead.

:

TITLE: Nyelbum Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Bhutan
SUBREGION: Western Bhutan
ETHNICITY: Ngalop
DESCRIPTION: Nyelbum (Sinner) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Cham Dance
FUNCTION: Celebration; Entertainment; Social Control
AGE: 19th century
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; cloth ties

The Ngalop people inhabit western and central Bhutan and are originally of Tibetan origin. The ethnic group includes an estimated 710,000 persons.  The Ngalop are primarily Tibetan Buddhist, and their masks are typically worn at monastery celebrations known as Cham Dances to bless the sowing of the grain, pray for a bountiful harvest, and entertain the public.  This mask, representing Nyelbum, or Digchen Nyalwabum (the sinner). The Nyelbum plays a role in the Dance of the Stag and the Hunter, a story of the Buddhist saint Millarepa’s conversion to Buddhism (along with a deer and his dog). The Nyelbum is the assistant to Millarepa, and he also plays a role in collecting donations from the crowd during the Cham performance. During the Raksha Mangcham, the Dance of the Judgment of the Dead, Nyelbum plays an important role in the morality tale of the consequences of sin and virtue. Nyelbum appears before Shinjey Choekyi Gyelpo, the Lord of Death, with the black demon Due Nagpo and the white deity Lha Karpo to judge two dead souls, Nyelbum and Khimdag Palkyed. Nyelbum pleads his poverty and ignorance, but he is judged harshly and dragged off to Hell to expiate his sins. Khimdag Palkyed lived a virtuous and enlightened life and is led to Nirvana.

:

TITLE: Cham Yama
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Bhutan
ETHNICITY: Ngalop
DESCRIPTION: Yama (Raksha Lango)
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Tshechu – Cham Dance
FUNCTION: Celebration; Protection/Purification
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; dyed silk

The Tshechu is an annual religious festival held in Bhutan, held in different months depending on the region. Cham dance, an important part of the celebration, is a classical masked ritual performed by Himalayan Buddhist monks. 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, frequently based on stories from the lives of Buddhist masters. The dance is performed to traditional Tibetan music played by monks.

This mask represents Yama or Raksha Lango, the Hindu god of the underworld, who has been incorporated into east Asian Buddhism along with many other Hindu gods. He plays an important role in dances that purify the village and temple of evil spirits and protect them from bad omens.

: