The use of masks extends throughout the Himalayan region, from locations as
diverse as the tropical lowlands of Nepal --- the Terai --- to the high
mountain villages of the Sherpas to the monasteries of Tibet and Bhutan.
Most Himalayan masks are created locally of indigenous materials for particular
ceremonies and are put away for the remainder of the year.
Dating masks is a tricky business, since their form varies but little over long
expanses of time and their condition depends so much upon individual conditions
of storage and use. A mask used only once a year and then kept wrapped and put
away in a storage box may well show less wear and patina than a much more
recent mask which has been kept hanging near the kitchen fire of a chimneyless
stone house. Scientific testing is generally the only proof positive of the
age of a mask unless one comes upon the rare example which can be dated from
the written record or from the memories of these who remember stories of when
it was new.
We therefore avoid venturing into the realm of pure speculation and will stay
away from attempting to date these masks. We will however state that all the
masks shown here were created for local use and were used as such. These are
not the cheap masks sold to unwary tourists. They should be viewed as cultural
artifacts of artistic merit, and viewed this way, age is of but secondary
If making inquiries about a specific mask, please be sure to include its
inventory number. A brief description and the dimensions of each
mask can be found on its enlargement page. For prices please send us an email
requesting the mask price list.