REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 2005
VALUE: 20 rupees

This banknote, printed from 1995 until 2006 by the government of Sri Lanka, depicts a Garuda mask from the Raksha Dance on its obverse. On its reverse, pole fishermen are shown in vertical orientation.

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TITLE: Huniyam Yakka Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
ETHNICITY: Sinhalese
DESCRIPTION: Huniyam Yakka (Prince of Black Sorcery) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kolam Natima Dance Drama
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: kadura (Strychox nux vomica) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; dyed cotton cloth

The masked dance of Sri Lanka developed from shamanic healing and purification rituals, and  split along two lines.  The first, Yakun Natima, is the healing dance performed by a shaman.  Each demon (yakku) represents a specific disease or ailment, and to invoke the demon, the shaman wears a mask depicting the symptoms or symbols of the disease. When performing as a group, a character known as Kola Sanni Yakka, who is a kind of amalgamation of all diseases, presides over the demons.

The second line, Kolam Natima is a storytelling dance drama involving 40 masked characters of very diverse types. The story originates in a myth of a pregnant Sinhalese queen who develops a craving to see masked dances. She begs her husband, the king, to arrange it, but he knows of no such dances. At his request, the god Sekkria, one of the four guardian gods, carves the masks and teaches the people how to perform the dance. They perform for the royal audience, and the baby is consequently born strong and healthy. The stories told with the masks are not a single cohesive narrative, but a series of stories that merge Sinhalese folk traditions with Buddhist Jataka stories, which tell of the former lives of the Buddha.

A Kolam Natima performance begins with ritual addresses to gods and the Buddha. What follows is a prologue showing brief stock, mostly comical, scenes from traditional Sri Lankan society.  Finally, the king and the queen in very large masks enter with their retinue, whence they watch the dance.  The performance ends with the dance, typically involving Gara demons, Nagas (snake demons) and the Garuda (a Naga-eating god-bird) who were eventually reconciled by the Buddha. The performance is intended to purify the village and to spread prosperity.

This mask probably represents Huniyam Yakka, the prince of black sorcery, from the Kolam Natima.

For more on the masks of Sri Lanka, see Alain Loviconi, Masks and Exorcisms of Sri Lanka (Paris: Éditions Errance, 1981).

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 1992
VALUE: sheet of 4 stamps (1 rupee, 2 rupees, 5 rupees, 10 rupees)

This sheet of stamps commemorates the traditional Kolam dance-drama of Sri Lanka. It was issued in a single sheet with four mask stamps of varied value. The characters depicted, from left to right, are Narilata, Mudali, the queen, and the king.

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 1992
VALUE: 15 rupees x6

This sheet of stamps commemorates the traditional shamanic healing rituals (kolam sanniya) of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. It was issued in a set of 3 sheets, with each stamp valued at 15 rupees. This sheet includes depictions of (from top left to bottom right) the Bootha, Abootha, Beetha, Bihiri, Golu, and Kora Sanniyas.

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 1992
VALUE: 15 rupees x6

This sheet of stamps commemorates the traditional shamanic healing rituals (kolam sanniya) of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. It was issued in a set of 3 sheets, with each stamp valued at 15 rupees. This sheet includes depictions of (from top left to bottom right) the Vatha, Wedi, Pith, Kana, Gulma, and Dewa Sanniyas.

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 1992
VALUE: 15 rupees x6

This sheet of stamps commemorates the traditional shamanic healing rituals (kolam sanniya) of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. It was issued in a set of 3 sheets, with each stamp valued at 15 rupees. This sheet includes depictions of (from top left to bottom right) the Amukku, Naga, Murthu, Demala, Ginijal, and Seethala Sanniyas.

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REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
YEAR PRINTED: 1977
VALUE: 5 rupees

This stamp is one of a set celebrating the handicrafts of Sri Lanka, issued by the government in 1977. Each stamp depicts a different handicraft. This one shows a Naga mask from the traditional Sinhalese Hindu dance drama.

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TITLE: Kolam Maneme Moonu
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
ETHNICITY: Sinhalese
DESCRIPTION: Maneme Moonu (Prince) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kolam Natima
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: kadura (Strychnox nux vomica) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The masked dance of Sri Lanka developed from shamanic healing and purification rituals, and  split along two lines.  The first, Yakun Natima, is the healing dance performed by a shaman.  Each demon (yakku) represents a specific disease or ailment, and to invoke the demon, the shaman wears a mask depicting the symptoms or symbols of the disease. When performing as a group, a character known as Kola Sanni Yakka, who is a kind of amalgamation of all diseases, presides over the demons.

The second line, Kolam Natima is a storytelling dance drama involving 40 masked characters of very diverse types. The story originates in a myth of a pregnant Sinhalese queen who develops a craving to see masked dances. She begs her husband, the king, to arrange it, but he knows of no such dances. At his request, the god Sekkria, one of the four guardian gods, carves the masks and teaches the people how to perform the dance. They perform for the royal audience, and the baby is consequently born strong and healthy. The stories told with the masks are not a single cohesive narrative, but a series of stories that merge Sinhalese folk traditions with Buddhist Jataka stories, which tell of the former lives of the Buddha.

A Kolam Natima performance begins with ritual addresses to gods and the Buddha. What follows is a prologue showing brief stock, mostly comical, scenes from traditional Sri Lankan society.  Finally, the king and the queen in very large masks enter with their retinue, whence they watch the dance.  The performance ends with the dance, typically involving Gara demons, Nagas (snake demons) and the Garuda (a Naga-eating god-bird) who were eventually reconciled by the Buddha. The performance is intended to purify the village and to spread prosperity.

This mask represents the maneme moonu, a prince and one of several royal characters in the Kolam drama.

For more on the masks of Sri Lanka, see Alain Loviconi, Masks and Exorcisms of Sri Lanka (Paris: Éditions Errance, 1981).

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TITLE: Kali Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
ETHNICITY: Sinhalese
DESCRIPTION: : Kali Amma Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kolam Natima
AGE: mid-twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: kadura (Strychnox nux vomica) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The masked dance of Sri Lanka developed from shamanic healing and purification rituals, and  split along two lines.  The first, Yakun Natima, is the healing dance performed by a shaman.  Each demon (yakku) represents a specific disease or ailment, and to invoke the demon, the shaman wears a mask depicting the symptoms or symbols of the disease. When performing as a group, a character known as Kola Sanni Yakka, who is a kind of amalgamation of all diseases, presides over the demons.

The second line, Kolam Natima is a storytelling dance drama involving 40 masked characters of very diverse types. The story originates in a myth of a pregnant Sinhalese queen who develops a craving to see masked dances. She begs her husband, the king, to arrange it, but he knows of no such dances. At his request, the god Sekkria, one of the four guardian gods, carves the masks and teaches the people how to perform the dance. They perform for the royal audience, and the baby is consequently born strong and healthy. The stories told with the masks are not a single cohesive narrative, but a series of stories that merge Sinhalese folk traditions with Buddhist Jataka stories, which tell of the former lives of the Buddha.

A Kolam Natima performance begins with ritual addresses to gods and the Buddha. What follows is a prologue showing brief stock, mostly comical, scenes from traditional Sri Lankan society.  Finally, the king and the queen in very large masks enter with their retinue, whence they watch the dance.  The performance ends with the dance, typically involving Gara demons, Nagas (snake demons) and the Garuda (a Naga-eating god-bird) who were eventually reconciled by the Buddha. The performance is intended to purify the village and to spread prosperity.

This mask represents Kali Amma, a god who leapt from Durga’s brow in order to kill certain demons, but became so battle raged that she began killing everything in her path until Shiva stopped her by throwing himself under her feet. Kali is considered another side of Durga, but destructive and evil, and so she appears black and ferocious, with fangs.

For more on the masks of Sri Lanka, see Alain Loviconi, Masks and Exorcisms of Sri Lanka (Paris: Éditions Errance, 1981).

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TITLE: Nonchi Akka Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Sri Lanka
ETHNICITY: Sinhalese
DESCRIPTION: Nonchi Akka (crazy old lady) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kolam Natima
AGE: ca. 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: kadura (Strychnox nux vomica) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The masked dance of Sri Lanka developed from shamanic healing and purification rituals, and  split along two lines.  The first, Yakun Natima, is the healing dance performed by a shaman.  Each demon (yakku) represents a specific disease or ailment, and to invoke the demon, the shaman wears a mask depicting the symptoms or symbols of the disease. When performing as a group, a character known as Kola Sanni Yakka, who is a kind of amalgamation of all diseases, presides over the demons.

The second line, Kolam Natima is a storytelling dance drama involving 40 masked characters of very diverse types. The story originates in a myth of a pregnant Sinhalese queen who develops a craving to see masked dances. She begs her husband, the king, to arrange it, but he knows of no such dances. At his request, the god Sekkria, one of the four guardian gods, carves the masks and teaches the people how to perform the dance. They perform for the royal audience, and the baby is consequently born strong and healthy. The stories told with the masks are not a single cohesive narrative, but a series of stories that merge Sinhalese folk traditions with Buddhist Jataka stories, which tell of the former lives of the Buddha.

A Kolam Natima performance begins with ritual addresses to gods and the Buddha. What follows is a prologue showing brief stock, mostly comical, scenes from traditional Sri Lankan society.  Finally, the king and the queen in very large masks enter with their retinue, whence they watch the dance.  The performance ends with the dance, typically involving Gara demons, Nagas (snake demons) and the Garuda (a Naga-eating god-bird) who were eventually reconciled by the Buddha. The performance is intended to purify the village and to spread prosperity.

This mask represents the comical servant Nonchi Akka, often used in traditional kolam to amuse the audience with punning dialogue.

For more on the masks of Sri Lanka, see Alain Loviconi, Masks and Exorcisms of Sri Lanka (Paris: Éditions Errance, 1981).

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