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Tibetian Vajrapani mask
Ache Lhamo opera, Tibet
11 inches, painted papier-mache
Tibetan Buddhist dance masks are from what could be termed as an urban civilization and were used mainly by the Ache Lhamo opera, developed by Thang Tong Gyelbo in the 15th century. He choreographed a system of dances utilizing elements from the tribal mask precursors of the indigenous culture. Several of the masks depict deities whose iconography was transmitted to Tibet more than 1,000 years ago from India. Some historical events are acted out in the form of masked dances.