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Qiangmu masks are hung in Tibetan Buddhist temples and are worn during the Tibetan Buddhist Qiangmu ceremonial dance to the gods. The dance involves chanting scripture in unison with drums and copper wind instruments. The masks represent the King, Buddha, demons, ghosts, fairies and animals. They look ferocious and terrifying to deter ghosts, demons and monsters.
In an ancient custom a mask is hung or placed at the doorway of a house, the entrance of a temple or the gate of a village. Important masks for this purpose are the guarding gods, animal heads and Tunkou (mythical ‘swallowing animals’) that symbolise the swallowing of disaster. They avert misfortune and protect the home by driving away evil spirits. Paintings and special utensils are also used to guard homes, villages and temples. Heavenly beasts, such as cats, adorn roofs, with at times up to seven or eight different forms of house protection employed.