Kathakali Chhau Mask Large
Traditionally these Masks form an integral part of Chhau Dance, a genre of Indian tribal martial dance which is popular in the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Chau dance was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. It needs extremely high artistic perfection and knowledge of the epic and mythology for the artist to make the right mask while depicting a perfect mood & the masks are made mainly for mythological characters such as Mahishasur-Mardini, Rama-Sita, the fight of Rama and Ravana etc. Chhau masks are made by artists from the Sutradhar community.
The making of a mask goes through various stages. 8–10 layers of soft paper, immersed in diluted glue, are pasted one after another on the mould before the mud mould is dusted with fine ash powder. The facial features are made of clay. A special layer of mud and cloth is applied and the mask is then sun-dried. After this, the mould is polished and a second round of sun drying is done before separating the layers of cloth and paper from the mould. After finishing and drilling holes for the nose and eyes, the mask is coloured and decorated.
The mask is made by BhimSutradhar, an accomplished CHAU ARTIST from Charida village of Purulia district of West Bengal. Bhim Started making masks when he was 10 years old. As his interest in this craft grew stronger, he started balancing his studies and mask-making from a very early age. He acquired this skill from his father who was a well-known artist during his times. Bhim has traveled to places like Chennai, Delhi, Goa and various other districts of West Bengal and has participated in many fairs and festivals held in these places. He conducted several state level workshops held in Jan 2014 & Mar 2015 as part of Rural Craft Project, undertaken by UNESCO and Govt. of India- Ministry of Textiles- Development Commissioner of Handicrafts.
Care: Dry clean with soft cloths or a brush. Keep away from wet conditions.