Face Music - Projects - Tsam Dance Masks - Mongolia
  • Traditional Dance Masks of Buddhists - Gombo - Mahäkäla

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

Gombo - Mahäkäla - Ikh Khar - the Big Black


Mahäkäla is also called Makhagal or Ikh Khar (patron) in Mongolian. He is a guard of the religion (tshoijin sakhuis) and the rebirth of Aryabal Jamraisig. He is a powerful god (burkhan) who swore to help people who are in troubles to overcome them, he swore to make them happy and wealthy; and especially when people have to die, it is he who takes them to paradise.

- He is the Prince of Demons, Lord of Diseases and Plagues. He is also a "Dreadful Killer". He is the figure of the Shiva, adopted from the Indian Pantheon. Mahäkäla is the Tantric personification of the male or Shakta aspect of the destructive cosmic forces, such as Käli, "The Black" is the female or Shakti aspect. Mahäkäla only enters stage if the tsam is performed in the long version.


  • - black or dark blue face mask
  • - head of a "Dreadful God"
  • - crown with five jags, decorated with skulls and behind an aureole
  • - Third Eye of Wisdom in the middle of the forehead
  • - ripper teeth in the wide open jaws
  • - dark costume, with rich ornaments in the colours of pink, gold, and green
  • - on the chest, there is situated the golden "Wheel of Religion"
  • - gold or silver jewellery

- In one hand he holds a magic mace with a trident, in the other hand he holds a flute made from human femur, enclosed with silver, or a trapping loop.

- At the beginning the dance is very slow and monotonous, as he extends his arms to the side, then he lifts his right foot, lets himself fall to the front and thereby turns slowly, in order to become incredibly fast afterwards. The best dancer in the monastery usually plays this role.

back to the Projects Dance Masks - Tsam Masks Mongolia

P & C Face Music - Ulaanbaatar, September / October 1999 - Albi
English translation: Hermelinde Steiner