TITLE: Cham Yama
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
DESCRIPTION: Yama (Raksha Lango)
CATALOG ID: ASBT001
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.