Thursday, April 11, 2013

Historical, Hand Carved Wooden Masks, a Great Value at Changu Narayan Temple Village

There are many beautiful and quite unique items to purchase in Nepal. Musical instruments, pasmina scarves, thangkas, pottery, etc., and so many people who are in your face with them, it is difficult to know what to buy or who to buy from. After two years I still can’t get a good deal on a pashmina scarf and had to just shake my head in amazement yesterday when my British guest showed me a beautiful scarf she got for only 1,000 NRs. 

One of my favorite places in the area is the ancient Changu Narayan Temple site. It makes a nice side trip when you come to Bhaktapur, a must see in Nepal. The bus isn't much slower than a taxi would be so I recommend catching a local bus from Bhaktapur for 25 NRs. When a bus stops and is obviously too full just wait for another one. I've seen people hanging out the sides so often and it really makes me nervous. My eBook, Nepal: On a Budget, or whatever I begin calling it, gives more detail to safely riding buses in Nepal. Often, if you let the crowded bus pass the next one will have sitting room.  

One great value I would like to tell about is the historical masks. My friend, Furba, from Changu Narayan has been so kind as to explain some interesting things about these masks and has even given me two beautiful masks that I am very proud of. I would not have had an idea that they are more than decorative if I had not been living here and enjoying the festivals. I would not have known the power they have if I had not experienced it myself. 

 First of all, I’d like to assure my readers that these masks are made from wood that is readily available in Nepal from the holi or elder trees. Either of these trees come to full maturity in less than 5 years and can be found all over the area.
Tree for making masks

Because these masks are made from this soft wood, they are lighter than you would expect and easy to take home. Each of these masks are hand carved and hand painted, yet are one of the most affordable items to take back home, even when Westerners send them by post.  

When I got my first Bhirub mask I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary, but the energy changed in my apartment and I found myself unable to contain anger anymore. My Hindu friends who know Bhirub well explain that Bhirub is the god of anger and if you let him he will take that anger you have in and around you and will take it as a sacrifice. I just can’t get worked up about those little annoyances and I realize now that they were all so small and petty I’ve decided to give all my anger to Bhirub (just by intend-no elaborate formality). If I were going back to the West, I would be sure to bring one of these masks home for someone I love in spite of his temper problem. It would also be great for anyone in customer service.

 The Historical Mask Shop has masks in a variety of themes, from the traditional Nepali, clown, African masks, om plaques, and even some contemporary style. For those who enjoy expanding their spiritual constructs these masks will allow you to bring home a bit of Nepali spirituality. Otherwise you might fall back into that ‘our invisible friend is better than yours.’ 

One interesting thing Furba helped me to understand is that Buddhists have gods like the Hindus. These masks are used when someone dies because the recently departed can get confused and not want to leave the earthly realm. In Buddhism, the lama wears the mask, chants and dances to help them to understand. This belief is similar to souls in the West that get lost in transition and stay behind to haunt homes. 

If you come to Changu Narayan Temple Village you can find Furba’s Historical Mask shop as you go up the steps. You will come to the museum on the right with Sunapati Thanka Shop on the left. The mask shop is just beyond these and on the right. They can make custom masks and can export at wholesale prices if you are looking for a Nepali project.

Manufacturer, wholesaler, exporter and retailer of custom, hand carved wooden masks. Historical Mask Work Shop, Changunarayan-1, Bhaktapur, Nepal. Furba Lama, +977 9841 620726, Email:

This is at the top of the stairs, a beautiful, ancient temple.

Did you know I wrote an eBook filled with tips on getting the most out of your visit to Nepal?

Satisfaction Guaranteed: NO FINE PRINT. If you don't truly love Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual, please send for 100% money back. If you are not completely satisfied just send your purchase information along with a note to:

Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual-For more information check out our website. If you enjoy this blog and the website you will enjoy the 299 page eBook. It is a well illustrated, easy read with over 1,000 tips to help you get the most out of Nepal.

Visit my website: Nepal: A Tourist's Manual

1 comment:

  1. The family are a lovely family and their art work is indeed lighter than you think it is going to be. Lovely temple at the top too. I met a 96 year old woman up there who enjoyed having her picture taken but didn't like her teeth!