TITLE: Somana Kunita Mask
TYPE: face mask
SUBREGION: Karnataka
MAKER: Unknown maker
CEREMONY: Somana Kunita Dance
AGE: 1960s-1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: red sandalwood
OTHER MATERIALS: canvas; adhesive; paint

Somana Kunita (sometimes spelled Kunitha) is a folk dance unique to the southern region of Karnataka, India, most commonly in Bangalore, Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, and Tumakur. The dance honors the local goddess, with red masks representing benevolent gods and yellow, white, or black masks representing fierce or malevolent gods. Each village has its own version of the masks.  Along with the mask (soma), the dancer wears an improvised skirt made from a saree for female characters, or tight pants for male characters, along with jewelry and a cane or bunch of peacock feathers. The mask includes a triangular or arched headdress (banka) made of cane and covered with colorful cloth, neem tree leaves, or flowers. The masqueraders dance to the music of drums, pipes, and flutes at village festivals, with songs about the mother-goddess intermittently sung during the performance.