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Sri Lanka, and Island close to the Southern tip of India is noted for its Masks. It is not possible to say how far back this mask tradition goes in the country, but it is possible that it is a few …

Sri Lanka, and Island close to the Southern tip of India is noted for its Masks. It is not possible to say how far back this mask tradition goes in the country, but it is possible that it is a few centuries old. Masks have been used in the many rituals performed to propitiate the gods or demons or to cure some illnesses said to be caused by demons.
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  • Masks of Sri Lanka by Gamini WIJESURIYA Sri Lanka, and Island close to the Southern tip of India is noted for its Masks. It is not possible to say how far back this mask tradition goes in the country, but it is possible that it is a few centuries old. Masks have been used in the many rituals performed to propitiate the gods or demons or to cure some illnesses said to be caused by demons. Among these rituals, the Sanni Yakuma is quite important and all demons called into this ritual in order to be re-quested to heal the patients arrive wearing masks. In this there are eighteen masks, each one representing one or more ailments. Today one could count even up to twenty-two such masks coming in the ritual witch would prove that many new sicknesses that came to be known later were also represented by new masks.
  • These masks have so many similarities that the best way to identify them is by listening to the description of the Sanni given by the performers. Certain masks have not changed their form although someone who is not quiet conversant with them may give them different names. Earlier in these rituals, it could be that there was one slightly big mask having on it a few more masks associated with certain ailments. In the Munich Museum, Germany is a mask of this type. This could be the forerunner to the big MAHAKOLA SANNI mask we know today which carriers in addition to the mask for the performer, eighteen other masks and a figure of a demon. The mask in Munich has only nine masks.
  • . The Mahakola Sanni mask is too big and it was certainly a very difficult task for a performer to dance with it. It may be that this mask was later used just to decorate the place at the entrance to the area where the ritual was performed. There is evidence for this if one were to examine the Mahakola Sanni mask in the Naparastek Museum in Prague. On the abdomen of the demon, there is the British coat of arms. People considered the showing of the British the coat of arms even at places of worship, quite acceptable and in order at the time, may be because the country was ruled by Britain.
  • The more important and very widely used masks are from KOLAM which is folk theatre. Kolam should be pretty old, but it is still not possible to say when it really started. There are many Kolam texts available and one of the earliest copies are available in the British Library. This is copied on paper. Kolam has a very clear script and characters are introduced in one particular order. This may however vary in a modern day performance. Every character in Kolam is given a mask and everyone is introduced by the leader before he enters the arena. In a Kolam performance, all performers were males. At the beginning the place is cleaned and the King and Queen arrive to witness the performance. They have very large and beautiful masks to wear and these are also quite heavy.
  • The King and Queen have to sit through the performance, so it is not so difficult for them. However, the King is given a sward into his hand, which he usual uses to keep his big mask in position. The performance really begins after the arrival of the King and the Queen. There are the soldiers, animals, Rakshas (superior to the normal Demons) who are introduced and later there are many stories that are enacted. Kolam scripts also vary and from time to time and it appears that more new masks have been introduced. One such mask is that of a Devol Dancer, now in the collection in Leipzig, Germany. It is not possible to find any reference to this mask in any Kolam script.
  • Dans l’hindouisme, Ganesh, Ganesha, ou Vinayak ou souvent appelé Ganapati dans le sud de l’Inde (´le seigneur des troupes de divinités´ ou mieux ´le seigneur des catégories´), est le dieu de la sagesse, de l’intelligence, de l’éducation et de la prudence, le patron des écoles et des travailleurs du savoir. C’est le dieu qui lève les obstacles. Il est le fils de Shiva et Parvati, l’époux de Siddhi, le succès et de Riddhi, la richesse. Il joue un rôle important dans le tantrisme. Traditionnellement représenté avec un corps de gros homme de couleur rouge possédant généralement quatre bras et une tête d’éléphant à une seule défense, son vahana ou véhicule est un rat ou une souris, Mushika. Ce dernier symbolise parfois le dieu à lui seul, comme peut le faire Nandi pour son père. Les deux se complètent, l’éléphant massif, puissant et réfléchi, le rat petit, mobile et malicieux, ont ainsi tous les atouts nécessaires pour résoudre les problèmes du monde.
  • . The masks of the demons of Rakshas are quite interesting. An important feature is that they all have cobras on them. There is the mask of Garuda, the eternal enemy of the Cobra and one could see a cobra inside his beak. The Gara Raksha has three cobras over his head while the number of cobras on the Naga (Naga means Cobra) could be from six to twenty or even more. As the performance begins in the presence of the King and Queen, it was natural that his courtiers and minor officials also had to be there. An examination of the Kolam script would show that some of these officials are treated with a bit of sarcasm. There are the Mudliar (a high official responsible for the administration of a province) the Arachchi, village Headman his assistant and Policeman, Kolam is a very humorous play and there are many episodes played on to provoke laughter among the audience. Among such are the struggle of the old Nonchi who is trying to take home her husband Ana Bera who has had a little too much to drink and the soft corner the Mudaliar and his assistant had towards the beautiful Lencina, the wife of the washerman, JASAYA. Into this episode of Jasaya and Lencina, another woman Prancina is introduced, to prove to Jasaya was also having his mind on another woman.
  • There is another folk theatre known as Sokari in which also a mask is used, but this is not taken very seriously as this particular one is usually turned out of arecanut leaf or some paper. The masks do not last long like the masks from the rituals or the Kolam, which are made out well-seasoned wood, treated and painted.
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to find Kolam or Sokari performances in Sri Lanka today and this is mostly due to changing values and also beliefs. Earlier it was more a community affair where villagers all got together to organize a performance contributing towards it, some with labor and some with money. Performances were usually held after harvesting and one performance could have lasted two to three nights. Today a performance lasts only a few hours and even the people who come to witness there do not have the time to sit through them for nights. Attempts have been made to use the stage for these performances like the Sanni, but the real atmosphere of a ritual seem to fade away from such performances. Masks from the Kolam, however could be used more effectively on stage as most of these masks were even originally used for entertainment.
  • Les masques du Sri Lanka sont des ornements décoratifs portés pour les loisirs et la danse. Auparavant, ils étaient utilisés dans les rites, drames et pour soigner les maladies. La ville d'Ambalangoda, située non loin d'Hikkaduwa dans le sud ouest du Sri Lanka, reste le principal centre de sculpture de masques.
  • The Gurulu (Garuda Raksha) is the portrait of a mythical bird devouring a snake. This bird is the same bird in Hindu tradition that Lord Vishnu takes his flight on. The snake or Naga as it is called, symbolizes protection. It is said amongst Sri lankan people that having these in homes brings good luck and protection. They date back to pre-Buddhist times when Sri lanka was an agricultural based society.
  • Gurulu is the mythical bird on which the Hindu god Vishnu rode. A common subject for Sri Lankan masks, but larger and much more detailed than anything made in recent years. This is the most impressive Sri Lankan mask I have ever owned. Excellent condition for its age.   The Gurulu (Garuda Raksha) is the portrait of a mythical bird devouring a snake. This bird is the same bird in Hindu tradition that Lord Vishnu takes his flight on. The snake or Naga as it is called, symbolizes protection. It is said amongst Sri lankan people that having these in homes brings good luck and protection. They date back to pre-Buddhist times when Sri lanka was an agricultural based society. This is a typical example of a Sinhalese ritual mask. The Sinhalese use the mask during 1) Kolam dancing - dramatic performances representing both human and superhuman characters 2) Devil dancing - associated with exorcising rituals, removing devils and illnesses from people 3) Sokari dancing - worn during theatre performances or Devolmadu ceremonies, or public rituals in Sri Lanka. The most developed are the 19 distinct disease masks. They are of ferocious nature, fanged, and with startling eyes.
  • RAKSHA COBRA DEVIL MASK SRI LANKA PROTECT FROM DANGERS This colorful twin cobra devil mask, known as Dwi Naga Raksha, has varied uses in contemporary Sri Lankan culture. Please enlarge my pictures. They are non-eBay served and quite large.It is used in the Raksha Natuma, or Devil Dance in which masks symbolizing the fight between the cobra and the bird (Maru Raksha) are "danced". The dance is used to exorcise demons from the possessed and is still believed to be effective psychiatric treatment in Sri Lanka today. In addition, the Dwi Naga Raksha, is often seen beside the entryway to a person's home, where it is thought to provide protection from all dangers. The devil's face is characterized by big teeth, bulging eyes and a lolling tongue, and the cobra symbols are arranged above and behind, and beside the face, as pictured below.
  • RAKSHA COBRA DEVIL MASK SRI LANKA PROTECT FROM DANGERS This colorful twin cobra devil mask, known as Dwi Naga Raksha, has varied uses in contemporary Sri Lankan culture. Please enlarge my pictures. They are non-eBay served and quite large.It is used in the Raksha Natuma, or Devil Dance in which masks symbolizing the fight between the cobra and the bird (Maru Raksha) are "danced". The dance is used to exorcise demons from the possessed and is still believed to be effective psychiatric treatment in Sri Lanka today. In addition, the Dwi Naga Raksha, is often seen beside the entryway to a person's home, where it is thought to provide protection from all dangers. The devil's face is characterized by big teeth, bulging eyes and a lolling tongue, and the cobra symbols are arranged above and behind, and beside the face, as pictured below.
  • RAKSHA COBRA DEVIL MASK SRI LANKA PROTECT FROM DANGERS This colorful twin cobra devil mask, known as Dwi Naga Raksha, has varied uses in contemporary Sri Lankan culture. Please enlarge my pictures. They are non-eBay served and quite large.It is used in the Raksha Natuma, or Devil Dance in which masks symbolizing the fight between the cobra and the bird (Maru Raksha) are "danced". The dance is used to exorcise demons from the possessed and is still believed to be effective psychiatric treatment in Sri Lanka today. In addition, the Dwi Naga Raksha, is often seen beside the entryway to a person's home, where it is thought to provide protection from all dangers. The devil's face is characterized by big teeth, bulging eyes and a lolling tongue, and the cobra symbols are arranged above and behind, and beside the face, as pictured below.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Wood carving factory Polonnaruwa
    • 2. Sri Lanka este renumit ă pentru atelierele sale artizanale, unde se reali zează sculpturi (sau mobilă) din lemn de esenţă nobilă: abanos, trandafir, acaju, santal, tek, cocotier, sau măşti tradiţionale din lemn moale de kadura (strychnos-nux vomica)
    • 3.  
    • 4.  
    • 5. În Sri Lanka a avut loc unul dintre cele mai importante fapte din istoria budismului: consemnarea pentru prima dată în scris a învăţămintelor lui Buddha. Frunzele palmierului tallipot (Corypha umbraculifera) au sevit ca papirus pentru textele scrise la mănăstirea Alu Vihara, nu departe de Kandy
    • 6.  
    • 7. Ganesh, Ganesha, sau Vinayak, fiul lui Shiva şi Parvati, este zeul înţelepciunii, inteligenţei, educaţiei şi prudenţei şi este patronul şcolilor. El este zeul care îndepărtează obstacolele Soţiile lui sunt Siddhi (succesul) şi Riddhi (bogăţia)
    • 8.  
    • 9. Murugan, fratele lui Ganesh, copilul divin al dragostei şi compasiunii, este zeul tinereţii şi frumuseţii Reprezintă înţelepciunea luminii, îndepărtează întunericul şi ne ajută să renunţăm la aroganţă şi să avem succese.
    • 10. Elefantul este regele animalelor în Sri Lanka. În fiecare an un elefant va transporta Dintele lui Buddha, relicva cea mai sacră din insulă, la perahera de la Kandy
    • 11.  
    • 12.  
    • 13.  
    • 14.  
    • 15. Trinitatea hindusa este formată din Brahma, Shiva ş i Vishnu, cei trei zei care creaz ă , protejeaz ă ş i vegheaz ă ciclurile vie ţ ii . Zeul Vishnu se poate î ncarn a în formă fizică - de c â te ori este nevoie - pentru a birui practicile inumane ale oamenilor.
    • 16. Krishna , favoritul hinduşilor, cel care ofera bucurie ş i fericire , este cea de a opta î ncarnare (num ită şi avatar ) a lui Vishnu. S e spune că împreună cu soţia sa Rada constitu i e adevărul absolut
    • 17.  
    • 18.  
    • 19.  
    • 20. Oamenii sunt extrem de superstiţioşi. Măştile au o importanţă capitală în viaţa lor. Ele sunt folosite în diverse ritualuri (măşti Raksha), în reprezentaţii teatrale (măşti Kolam) sau pentru exorcizarea şi vindecarea bolilor (măşti Sanni). În fiecare casă se atârnă pe perete măşti , pentru alungarea spiritelor rele şi pentru a oferi protecţie
    • 21. Raksha Cobra oferă protecţie. Legenda spune că ţara a fost condusă de tribul raksasas, al cărui rege era Rawana (cel din Ramayana), şi ei puteau lua formă de cobră pentru a teroriza populaţia
    • 22.  
    • 23.  
    • 24. Dwi Naga Raksha, Cobra dublă oferă protecţie completă
    • 25.  
    • 26.  
    • 27. Mayura Raksha, Păunul, aduce pace, armonie şi prosperitate
    • 28. Gara Raksha apără de cobit şi de deochi
    • 29. Măştile figurează chiar şi pe bancnote
    • 30. Oamenii terorizaţi de clanul Rakshasas preschimbaţi în cobre au cerut ajutorul păsării mitice care se hrăneşte cu şerpi (Gurulu, Garuda-vehicolul lui Vishnu) Gurulu Raksha aduce pace, prosperitate şi fericire
    • 31.  
    • 32. Cobra dublă cunoscută ca Dwi Naga Raksha , are multiple întrebuinţări în viaţa cotidiană. Ea se foloseşte în dansul Raksha Natuma (Dansul Diavolului) care simbolizează lupta dintre cobră şi pasărea mitică. Dansul este folosit şi pentru exorcizarea demonilor din cei posedaţi de diavol şi este considerat tratament psihiatric chiar şi în zilele noastre . În plus Dwi Naga Raksha este agăţat deasupra intrării considerând că el asigură protecţie totală faţă de orice pericol.
    • 33. Fotografii: ♦ Sanda Foişoreanu ♦ Lucia Buzdugan ♦ Nicoleta Leu Prezentare: Sanda Foişoreanu Fond muzical: ♦ Udari Wedding song ♦ R adha K rishna song ♦ Sri Lanka - Cobra Dance - Typical dances