Two wrathful masks

19th century, Tibet, buffalo mask for the Yama dance, papier mâché, at the Liverpool Museum (UK).

A main character in the Cham dance, Yama Dharmaraja has a buffalo head with three eyes and wears a five-skull crown.

Tibet, wrathful deity mask, wood and paint, private collection, photo by Koller.

Red Mahakala is another protagonist.


A few apron plaques

16th century or later, Tibet, apron plaque, bone, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

This dancing skeleton stands on a double lotus base, its right foot on a skull (the lower jaw missing).

17th-18th century, Tibet, apron plaque, bone and ivory, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

A four-hand female in a dancing pose on a lotus pedestal, Kirtimukha underneath. She seems to be holding a staff.

18th century, Tibet, apron plaque, bone?, private collection.

A similar character, holding a drum and a staff in her upper hands.

Same as before.

This one has a vajra sceptre and a skull cup in her main hands.

Undated, Tibet, bone, private collection.

This more elaborate one depicts various tantric figures and mythical creatures, including a garuda at the top.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, apron plaque with Vajravarahi, bone, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

Circa 16th century, Tibet, apron plaque, bone, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).

A two-handed dancing female, and Kirtimukha below.


Vajradaka, top part

18th century, Tibet, Vajradaka, brass with turquoise inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Top part of a ritual black sesame seed burner, depicting the head of Vajradaka with his mouth wide open for the smoke to come out. See more about this deity on Himalayan Buddhist Art (, right hand side, Tibet> wrathful deities and on the Himalayan Art Resources website.

Chitipati plaque

18th-19th century, Tibet, citipati, private collection, photo by Drouot.

This plaque shows Shana Adhipat, one of the two frightful skeletal forms who are normally “dancing” together, adorned with nothing else but a skull crown and a skull finial on her cranium. She would normally hold a sheaf of grain in her right hand and a long-life vase in her left hand.