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Thomas Murray

Mask depicting Houshang
Monpa or Sherdukpen people
Arunachal Pradesh or Bhutan
Wood, pigment
19th century or earlier
Ex collections Lawrence Hultberg, San Francisco; Pace Gallery, New York; Victor Teicher, New York;
9.5 in / 24 cm

$33,500 USD

This superb Monpa mask from Arunachal Pradesh or Bhutan would have been worn in the Ache Lhamo/Ajilhamu dance drama. The origin of the Houshang character may date back to the Great Debate over which form of Buddhism was to become the official court-patronized religion in eighth century Tibet; the Tantric version from the Indian subcontinent espoused the saint Padmasambhava, also called Guru Rimpoche, or that of the Chinese monk Houshang, who lost the contest. The finely carved features of this mask are visually akin to those of Olmec masks from ancient Mexico.