Mask is an art of transformation, concealing the identity of the performer and invests the actor with an alternative identity. It is used to take on the persona of the other – a person, a deity, an animal or a cosmic character. The performer in the mask dance is looked upon as an empowered person, whose socially ascribed identity is subsumed to the identity of the character that he depicts with the help of the mask. Masks form a very significant mode of creative expression in many cultures. Masks when used in performances are not just an accessory but a necessary part of the performance as they create the necessary ambience for the story and carry the narrative forward. Masks can be traced back to antiquity from the rock art traditions as well as in ancient Indian architecture.


In West Bengal, masks are used in most folk forms of dance. The Chou mask dance is mainly

practised in the Puruliya, Bankura and the Medinipur districts. In the Dinajpur district, the Gamira masks are prepared by craftsmen of Polia and Deshi communities. The mask dance of the Maldah district is known as Gambhira and is associated with the worship of Lord Siva. The Rabhas ofthe Jalpaiguri district practise a form of dance known as Charkhilaini, using masks. In the Darijiling district the wooden masks of Tibetan style are mainly used in local festivals

During a trip to kolkatta, visited this museum and learnt many interesting facts about mask making.

By vidyasagar

Engineer, traveller, Cyclist, self-experimenter, Aspiring triathlete

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