Central Asia, Nepal, ca. first half of the 20th century CE. A striking mask, hand-carved from hardwood, depicting the head of an aggressive zoomorphic creature, perhaps a wolf. The canine countenance is composed of ovoid ears, recessed circular eyes beneath curving brows, a lengthy snout with delineated nostrils, a large jaw, and an enormous openwork mouth filled with fangs. The verso has been carved out for wear, and several peripheral perforations suggest a large textile costume was once attached. The Himalayan masking tradition is not as well known as those from Africa or Southeastern Asia, and today some of the original information has been lost due to fading oral traditions. Masks like this one relate to indigenous, animist traditions that developed in the harsh, wild environment of the Himalayas, and so they are often representations of local spirits. They were made to be worn in masquerades, glimpsed through light from lamps burning butter as oil. Size: 8.875" W x 10.375" H (22.5 cm x 26.4 cm).
Provenance: ex-collection of the late Peter Arnovick, San Francisco, California, USA
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