Wooden Masks of West Bengal

Ritual Crafts, Theatre, Performance Crafts

Wooden Masks of West Bengal

Kushmandi is a well-known cultural hub in Dinajpur district of West Bengal. Here wooden masks that are locally known as mukha are crafted. These are usually worn during the traditional performance of the Gomira dance of the community. These masks are light to wear and have hollowed spaces for the performer to see and breathe. The wood is designed to express and symbolizes the spirit of the character. Often masks depicting bold and demonic expressions are created for the characters. Besides their use in the performance the craftspeople of Kushmandi make these masks for interior decor. In addition the Kushmandi craftspeople have diversified into a range of other craft items.

Masks, continue to be a part of the socio-cultural tradition of the people of West Bengal. They are being used by the chhou dances of Purulia and the gambhira dances of Malda. Masks used in devil dances and other religious festivals of Darjeeling and Tibet are colourful relics of priesthood. Chhou masks are distinct as mac a len papier mache and no negative would in used. Therefore every mask in a regional piece. These masks usually depict gods, deacons, legendary heroes, and mythological characters. They are excellent in terms of finish, design, and decor. The artisans are mostly centred in the Charida and Bagmundi areas of Purulia district. The Darjeeling masks are usually carved out of soft word painted in bright colours. They symbolise demons and evil mountain spirits.



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