Costumes and masks of the Cham dancers

These photos I took during New Year's celebrations but New Year was Tibetan and called Losar. They celebrate it in their own way. During this festival the Cham dances are performed. They are meant to be enjoyed as entertainment but they also present religious messages and a bit of Tibetan history as well. These dances are performed by monks dressed in rich costumes of embroidered and appliqued silk brocade. Preparations of the costumes is a difficult tusk that requires a great deal of skill.

Costumes are worn over the usual dress of the monk. The normal dance costume consists of a long robe with long broad sleeves over which can be worn a short triangular cape. Sometimes the dancer wears a breast ornament or a circular breastplate also known as a mirror. 

If a monk is playing the part of a god or some other unearthly creature, he wears a painted mask, symbolizing fear, lust, anger, death. The masks are designed and decorated to terrify evil powers. The more terrifying the mask in appearance the better it is able to protect the worshiper. There are many animal-headed deities in the dances too: deer, snakes, tigers, vultures, dragons. Made from wood, thin copper sheet and papier-mache and painted the masks are kept in the monastery and renewed when necessary.


  1. Very interesting post. Greetings from Scotland.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. wow, i´m always impressed of those rich embroideries and bright colors, so eye popping and beautiful!
    love and kiss,mary

  3. Thank you for your post! I was searching for such information, and I'm happy to fund it in your blog.