According to one belief the object of putting on masks of grotesqueappearance
is to give an. idea to the spectators of the types of dread monsters who are met by the
soul after it quits the earthly plane. These masks are made after many imaginative figures
of monsters, dragons, beasts, devils, imps, spirits and skeletons. The departed soul is
frightened and perplexed by these terrifying figures and then the lama or some saint
appears to protect it and guide it to a safe end. The theory obviously is an attempt to
establish the supremacy of priesthood over temporal power and command allegiance from
simple god-fearing common folk.
Another belief is that the lamas put on these
masks to combat malignant spirits. The figures with demoniac appearances are the
terrifying defenders of religion or righteousness and also stand for the horrifying
aspects of the Bodhisattvas. Apart from what the popular belief goes, there is some
meaning in these plays, which the initiates well understand. Killing the evil king is only
an allegory, the real meaning is "Killing of one's own self." The dancers appear
in eight different masks or there may be more but then they will be grouped in
eight’s. These krodha or horrifying manifestations of the eight great Bodhisattvas
helps the monks to acquire the highest insight.
A cloverleaf blade often topped by the head of
a khyung (garuda) bird is a very typical ritual attribute called phurbu. It is one of the
most important weapons of tantric deities used by the lamas for exorcising evil spirits or
pinning down evil demons. This magic dagger is either made of wood, preferably khadira, or
steel or even cast in bronze. Phurbus come invariably in use during ritual masked dance.
During the tantric ceremonial the devil is summoned up and a spell is cast on him. It is
with the phurbu that he is held fast.