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  • Traditional Dance Masks of Buddhists - Khokhimoi - Durteddagva

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

Khokhimoi - Durteddagva - Lord of the Cemetery, Lord of the Graveyard

or Deathmask are the names of this mask couple.

Khokhimoi is also called Durteddagva (Skull) – he is the Lord of the dance place (ukheer).
He refuses access to the dance circle to those not entitled. When dancers enter the circle, they have to pass two Durteddagvas (two lords of the place or guards of the place, can also be two warriors).

- By means of these masks, people should get used to the conception of death. It is common belief that these creatures come for the corpses and later on consume them. They are also considered husband and wife who, according to legend, were ascetic in their former life and who were skinned by a thief when they were meditating.
This becoming a skeleton in trance and resurrecting make up part of the typical conception of Shamanism, something that may also be seen by example of the Shamanistic costumes. This is an indicator for the archaic age of these masks.


  • - white face colour
  • - skull
  • - two, sometimes three eyes
  • - opened or shut mouth, with or without ripper teeth
  • - usually tight white jackets with black or red stripes suggesting the skeleton
  • - white trousers

- In the right hand these masks hold a striped rod, often equipped with a skull at the end.
By means of this rod the raven or the demons are expelled when they are interrupting the dance or when the raven is nearing the sacrifical altar. The masks also use this rod in order to keep back the spectators who sometimes try to get too near to the actors. If somebody is beaten (blessed) with this rod, this person's life will be only of short duration from then on.

- Only tiny movements, with jumps and circular movements and different steps, by means of which the dancers change from one foot to the other one. Every single step is followed by the beat of a cymbal. The dance lasts for about a quarter of an hour. This skull dance reminds of human sacrifices.

Second type:

- This is a type of mask which can be nearly exclusively found in Mongolia.


  • - white complexion
  • - skull-crown with five jags
  • - Third Eye of Wisdom in the centre of the forehead
  • - fan-like "wings" made from paper behind the ears
  • - extremely long hands with claws and red palms
  • - tight red jackes with red stripes symbolising a skeleton
  • - trousers with white and red stripes

- In the right hand he holds a fly swatter.

- Just as with the first type.

back to the Projects Dance Masks - Tsam Masks Mongolia

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