These masks were never actually worn, and they were used only during a special annual festival dedicated to Indra, the Indra Jatra. Behind each mask, a pot of beer or spirits was placed and poured through a funnel pipe emerging from the hole in the divinity's mouth. The consecrated beverage would then be consumed with great enthusiasm by participants during the ceremony. The custom of drinking as part of the Indra festival is peculiar to Nepal, and these large, mask-like sculptures are unique to the country. For a similar example in the Museé Guimet, Paris, see Ian Alsop, 'The Masks of the Newars', Orientations, September 1993, p. 57, fig. 14; and another mask sold in our New York rooms, 24th March 2004, lot 91.
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