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Traditional Masks In India
Traditional Masks In India

Bidyut Nath
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Friday, March 27, 2009
Traditional masks have been extensively used in folk theatres and bhaonas, made with the materials ranging from terracotta to pith to metal, bamboo and wood. The tribals too used different colourful masks. The modern-day drawing rooms use masks as decorative items and wall-hangings. Can we discuss about these masks?

Posted On : 4/15/2009 4:47:42 AM

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Indravadan Modi
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Saturday, January 10, 2009
Mask is basically an important part of theatre craft that has been connected with the rituals and Indian history since antiquity. India is the place where such theatre crafts are in huge demand because of the fact that India is the centre of theatre and drama. Masks of different culture and times connote that masks existed since the ancient tradition. Masks are made in India in several states and this is particularly the art of the tribal people. Sometimes the people of different states make masks to earn their livelihood. There are different kinds of masks like Bhuta Masks of South India, painted mask bastar of Madhya Pradesh, Hanuman masks of Orissa, Papier Mache tiger masks of Himachal Pradesh, Wooden masks of Nepal. Apart from these masks, Karnataka is the centre of a particular mask especially headgears called Kiritams which are used by the artists performing Kathakali dance. There are variations in the headgears as different headgears are made to represent different characters. The headgears of religious figures, strong, gentle, devoted, and loyal differs from the headgears of vicious and destructive characters. The tradition of masks depicts its existence in India since the antiquity. Even in recent times, the contemporary theatre tradition values the use of the different forms of masks to suit the persona of different characters in dramas and theatres. In some states of India the culture of folk tradition plays a vital role. In this nineteenth century, the artisans are trying to reconstruct the art of making masks by adding modern arts into them.

Posted On : 4/15/2009 9:41:09 PM

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Abhi Tripathi [Guru]
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Monday, January 07, 2008
Masks play the role of familiar and vivid element in many folk and traditional pageants, ceremonies, rituals and festivals which are often of an ancient origin. Having a traditional value, it is important to the religious and social life of the community as whole or a particular group within some community. There are some communities in India, who live on creating this particular item of theatre craft. The artisans follow some ways to give each mask a distinct look. These masks play a key part within world theatre traditions, particularly non-western theatre forms. They also continue to be a vital force within contemporary theatre, and their usage takes a variety of forms. In many cultural traditions the masked performer is a central concept and is highly valued.

Posted On : 4/15/2009 9:53:10 PM

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Darshil Jal daru khanewala
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Friday, December 21, 2007
Masques not only protect but also transform, disguises, and enhance the face. This was born of mankind s myth-creating faculty that transposes experiences from the subconscious into images. The mask has ever been the unfailing companion of the face as its mysterious double the alter ego. It seems probable that deep in the prehistoric past each primitive society developed its own Masque to minimize the feeling of helplessness and exposure to the forces of nature. Their myth-making imagination suggested that the good forces that help in sustaining life are gods, and the evil forces that destroy life are demons or evil spirits. They devised rituals, which are but enactments of myths, to please the gods and appease the evil spirits. From myth and ritual, therefore, were born many idols, images, and icons. Masques are a special kind of icon. If theatre is defined as the enactment of a series of situations through assumption of one or more characters, the person who shaped the first mask unknowingly gave birth simultaneously to theatre. Masked rituals are but a kind of theatre and to distinguish them from other kinds, epithets like religious or bizarre are used. But it is now generally accepted that theatre began as ritual and aesthetic considerations came later. Many Indian theatre traditions still have ritualistic overtones and some of them decorate the actor s face either with Masque or mask-like make-up.

Posted On : 4/15/2009 9:57:09 PM

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Maniam PS [Guru]
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
A mask is an article normally worn on the face, typically for protection, concealment, performance, or amusement. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer s body, so in parts of Australia giant totem masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing Throughout the world masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance - both ritually and in various theatre traditions. The ritual and theatrical definitions of mask usage frequently overlap and merge but still provide a useful basis for categorisation. The image of juxtaposed Comedy and Tragedy masks are widely used to represent the Performing Arts, and specifically Drama. Masks are a familiar and vivid element in many folk and traditional pageants, ceremonies, rituals and festivals, and are often of an ancient origin. The mask is normally a part of a costume that adorns the whole body and embodies a tradition important to the religious and/or social life of the community as whole or a particular group within the community. Masks are used almost universally and maintain their power and mystery both for their wearers and their audience.The continued popularity of wearing masks at carnival, and for children at parties and for festivals such as Halloween are good examples. Nowadays these are usually mass-produced plastic masks, often associated with popular films, TV programmes or cartoon characters - they are, however, reminders of the enduring power of pretence and play and the power and appeal of masks. Masked characters, usually divinities, are a central feature of Indian dramatic forms, many based on depicting the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Countries that have had strong Indian cultural influences Cambodia, Burma, Java, Thailand, Vietnam have developed the Indian forms, combined with local myths, and developed their own characteristic styles. The masks are usually highly exaggerated and formalised, and share an aesthetic with the carved images of monstrous heads that dominate the facades of Hindu and Buddhist temples. These faces or Kirtimukhas, Visages of Glory , are intended to ward off evil and are associated with the animal world as well as the divine. During ceremonies these visages are given active form in the great mask dramas of the South and South-eastern Asian region

Posted On : 4/15/2009 10:13:50 PM

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Chetan Juneja
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Monday, April 28, 2008
wooden masks of West Bengal are an important part of the social and cultural activities of the state. The artisans are present in Purulia who make wooden masks for the chhou dancers and so are present in Malda where the masks are used by the Gambhira dancers. The hilly areas of Darjeeling and Tibet also employ masks in their devil dances and other religious festivals. Chhou masks are distinct as they represent the gods, goddess and characters from the mythology and history. Over the long time, the wooden masks have evolved into an admirable craftsmanship with its exquisite design and finish. The artisans for chhou masks are mostly located in and around Charida and Bagmundi of Purulia district. The masks of hilly areas is carved out of soft wood and painted vividly with subtle use of bright colours representing the evil spirits of the mountains and the demons. Another dance which needs the employment of wooden masks is Kali Nach, performed in West Bengal, in honour of the Goddess Kali. The performer wears a mask, purified by mantras dances with a sword, and makes prophetic answers.

Posted On : 4/15/2009 11:44:56 PM

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Riya Sen [Guru]
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Throughout the ages, masks have held a strange fascination for mankind. Masks originated from the primitive man s urge to control the rather hostile environment through magic and religion. He sought in them a medium to establish contact with the unseen world of spirits and to call on them to protect him against the dangers lurking in his surroundings. In India, which has been the cradle of one of the ancient civilisations, the entire gamut of uses of masks sacrificial, totemic, ritual, processional, theatrical is utilised. Perhaps, the earliest form taken by the mask is painting of the face and the body, with direct application to the skin of colouring matter the Onges of the Andamans still use this method. With the advent of pastoral civilisation came ancestor worship: the masks often represented the spirits of the departed ancestors. With the coming of settled agricultural communities, masks came to be increasingly used in the service of religion, with magical beliefs evolving into organised religion, witch doctors becoming priests and ritual dances becoming part of increasingly elaborate religious ceremonies. Masks became a vehicle for projection of esoteric doctrines and interpretation of new concepts of the world. In more recent times, masks came handy in dramatising popular conceptions of gods. heroes and demoniac characters in dance-drama featuring episodes from mythology and ancient lore. In India, themes for the traditional dance-drama are usually derived from Puranic mythology and popular epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In these dance-dramas, masks are used by the players to depict demons and super-human characters. In Uttar Pradesh, highly artistic masks are used in the Ramlila performed during Dussehra at Ram Nagar near BENARAS. These masks are generally made of papier-m ch , gilded copper and zari work. In South India, during Bhagwat Mela literally a concourse of devotees when the story of the child devotee Prahlada is staged, the player who depicts Narasimha, the Lion-god who slays the demon king Hiranyakashipu, wears a magnificent ritual mask richly coloured and bejewelled and effectively conveying the blood-curdling fury of Narasimha. This mask is itself an object of veneration and when not in use, is kept inside a temple and prayers offered daily. Indeed this practice of worshipping masks used in mythological plays is common in many parts of the country. The famous Chau dance of West Bengal uses different types of mask.

Posted On : 4/16/2009 12:00:17 AM

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