Himalayan Masks From The Land Of Mountain

are used in , , by the tribal group of Mountain and Himalayan Region of . are generally used for reaching the altered state of the called and for exorcism practice.

These handcrafted masks represent the unique and traditions of the people residing in the Himalayan people. Walking along the Galleries around Thamel, , one can find the wide variety of the Himalayan masks. These masks are originally made by the local people like and other practitioners of the Buddhism and Hinduism.

Practice of Shamanism and the masks

The practice of Shamanism is popular among the Asian people. Its practice is also widely famous among the Nepali people. The tribal group of Nepal like Magar and Gurung have been practising the Shamanism for a long period of . Shamanism is practised mostly in the Mid-Hills of Nepal and is a gateway to the world and an integral part of the daily life.

The practice of the Shamanism takes the practitioner to the altered state of the consciousness and hence allows them to interact with the beings in the spirit world. Many people think it as a superstitious practice. The shaman mask used by the practitioners is simple in appearance but is very expressive; it is carved out of hard, brown and coloured completely in black. It has a high, domed forehead, large, almost rectangular eyes beneath rubbery, projecting eyebrows, a long, wide nose and an open, as it was speaking mouth. In its abstract simplicity, this mask is a highly impressive object.

Shamanism in Nepal is worshiped with the following beliefs:

  • Spirits exist and they have important roles to play in day to day human life.
  • The person worshiping Shamanism (a Shaman) has the ability to interact and communicate with spirits.
  • Benevolent or malevolent are the two types of Spirits that exist.
  • Shamans can sickness or diseases caused by malevolent spirits.
  • The shaman can employ inducing to incite visionary ecstasy and go on vision quests.
  • The shaman’s spirit can leave the to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.

Shamanism in Nepal is worshiped mostly by people who have an association with the but there are also pure practices prevalent in Nepal.

– Prayer for divine blessing

For performing the benediction there are sixteen dancers wearing the copper masks. In general term, it is called 16 brass masks. The lead dancer is known as Barahai surrounded by Gyani-. Hence, this dance is believed to purify the land and objects, and teachers give disciples the benediction to transform them into pure land. The dancers carry and in their hands and :

Om Aa Hung vajra

Guru Padhma Siddhi Hung

Padmasambhava Dance

Upon the request, the eight incarnates of the come out to offer prayer to Padmasambhava in form of dance and the prayer. The eight dancers wear a robe, cap and the masks and play the instruments to offer the dignity and respect to the Guru Padmasambhava.

The Eleven Acharyas

The eleven are considered to be the reuniting of the Gyalpo.

  • One mask is seen smiling.
  • The two masks are red in appearance with front teeth pressed on the lower lip.
  • Following red masks, other two are of colour.
  • The other four have pressed lips.
  • Last two are green in colour and have the different posture of the mouth.

All of these masks have Vajra and minor trumpet in hands.

Mahe Dongchen

It this dance the main dancer (diety) wears the buffalo mask.

Hashang and Hatuk

Popularly known as the smiling Buddha, is the Tibbetian mask. Evergreen smiling Hashang represents the of the . Hashang is displayed along with the Hatuk (his disciple). Thus the dance of Hashang and the Hatuks represents the and the disciple relation. This dance is performed during the Hemis Fair.

Along with these unique kinds of masks, other common Himalayan masks represents the deities , , ,  and so on. If you are the one familiar with the Himalayan masks then you must have realised a common thing in all of them: A on the forehead. It represents the and the consciousness.


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Web portal providing online services and resources for the preservation of the Himalayan culture including arts, crafts and architecture. Himalayas Life offers services to handcrafters, artisans, artists and anyone willing to promote the Himalayan culture online.

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