Search our images

Wooden mask, Bhutan, 1850-1920

We’re improving the information on this page. Find out more.


A smiling skull has been carved and painted on to this wooden mask. For centuries, masks like this one have been worn by monks or village elders in Bhutan, a land-locked country in south-east Asia. The masks are worn during ritual dances of saints, princesses, gods and demons at religious festivals or tsechus. The dances commemorate the triumph of Buddhist doctrines over evil. Those who attend the festivals are believed to gain merits and blessings, good karma and good luck.


Credit: Science Museum, London

Free to use with attribution