Upon his first meeting with Jesse, Lama Norbu says "In my country we love masks". What is the significance of this and the importance of masks?From Bernardo Bertolucci's film Little Buddha

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Masks are important for Buddhism as they often reproduce gods and deities. They are an integral part of Buddhist culture and beliefs and are often worn during religious dances and rituals to defeat negative forces. Buddhist masks also recall images linked to death, the decay of our physical bodies and the consequent spiritual transformation. The fact that Jesse, whom Norbu believes is the re-incarnation of his teacher, is wearing a mask that he has made himself when they first meet, may be taken as a clue to a shared cultural heritage between the Lama and the boy. The boy did not know that Norbu was coming that day or that masks were such an important part of his religious and cultural traditions, so he couldn't have consciously worn the mask.