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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.

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Glossary: mask

A covering worn on or held in front of the face for disguise, to amuse, terrify or to symbolise.

Glossary: Buddhism

A belief system or religion originally from India and based on the teachings of Siddharta Guatama, known as ‘The Buddha’, who died about 400 BCE. It requires ethical and unselfish behaviour.