TITLE: Chhau Colonist Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: Purulia, West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Mask Representing a Colonist
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Chhau Dance
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; paint

Chhau dance is a modern version of a classical Indian dance with tribal origins, originating in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal. The dance is usually structured around Hindu folk stories exalting the gods Shiva, Devi or Vishnu, and uses both elegant and martial techniques. The Purulia Chhau of West Bengal and the Seraikela Chhau of Jharkhand most commonly use masks to identify the character portrayed.

This specific mask portrays a British colonist. It is not one of the original Chhau characters, and may represent a demonic or clown character for humorous effect.  It most probably originates in Purulia.

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TITLE: Chhau Durga
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Durga (Shakti) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Bagmundi
CEREMONY: Purulia Chhau Dance
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; wire; plastic beads; sequins; plastic feathers; human hair; paint

Chhau dance is a modern version of a classical Indian dance with tribal origins, originating in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal. The dance is usually structured around Hindu folk stories exalting the gods Shiva, Devi or Vishnu, and uses both elegant and martial techniques. The Purulia Chhau of West Bengal and the Serakeilla dance of Jharkhand most commonly use masks to identify the character portrayed.

This specific mask is of the Purulia type and portrays a god named Durga or Shakti, the principal form of the Hindu warrior goddess. She combats demonic armies with her multiple arms, each carrying weapons such as the bow, trident, shield and sword. She is often depicted as riding a tiger.

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TITLE: Chhau Rakshasa
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: India
SUBREGION: West Bengal
ETHNICITY: Bengali
DESCRIPTION: Rakshasa Mask
MAKER: Sri Gokul Chandra Rai, Santineketan, West Bengal
CEREMONY: Purulia Chhau Dance
AGE: 1973
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; wire; dyed cloth; tinsel; beads; dyed feathers; paint

Chhau dance is a modern version of a classical Indian dance with tribal origins, originating in the Indian states of Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal. The dance is usually structured around Hindu folk stories exalting the gods Shiva, Devi or Vishnu, and uses both elegant and martial techniques. The Purulia Chhau of West Bengal and the Seraikela dance of Jharkhand most commonly use masks to identify the character portrayed.

This specific mask is of the Purulia type and portrays a rakshasa, an earthbound, bloodthirsty, shape-changing demon. In the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, rakshasas are numerous and fight on the sides of both good and evil.

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