Ethnic masks

Ethnic Masks in Home Décor

Ethnic Masks in Home Décor

Introduction

Mask refers to something that covers a part or entire face. Ethnic masks are made up of cloth, lime, leather, wood, clay, beads, shells, human/ animal hair, teeth, paper maché, linen, fibers, ivory, copper, bronze, terracotta, glazed pottery, gold, or locally available materials. These masks can be zoomorphic anthropomorphic i.e. animal or human characteristics or can be a combination of both. Pattachitra masks are a unique style of eastern India that finds pride of place among several worldwide mask styles.

The history of masks can be traced back to 7000 BC. Masks were generally used for ritual practices and ceremonies of spiritual significance for various purposes in different eras. Masks were localized to represent, invoke or connect with a particular spirit, ancestors, and supernatural beings to acquire and inherit power and to ascertain socio-political relationships. Masks were also used as a protection in battle field, as an accessory, fanciful and fascinating items around the world during carnivals and celebrations.

In Egyptian civilization, masks were used for funerary use because they believed in life after death. Masks are also used in Feng Shui.

With time, the use of masks gradually evolved to be used for artistic activities, theatre and art forms such as film, comedies or television. Finally, these ethnic masks entered our homes as artistic home decors.

Ethnic Mask Styles around the World

Putting on a mask is an internal and external transformative experience allowing us to be someone else. Over the years, many mask rituals and ceremonies have died out, but few have still held on to their cultures and traditions around the world.

Africa

Masks are used for rituals, ceremonies, to represent the cultural values of the tribe, spirits of animals or ancestors, mythological heroes, moral values or a symbolic way to honor a person. It is believed that the wearer of the mask is transformed into a spirit during a ritual, able to communicate between humans and spirits and is possessed by who or what the mask represents.

Asia

In Asia, masks are used for spiritual, cultural and decorative purposes, tribal rites, religious celebrations and theatrical performances.

  • Theatrical and Dance Masks: In Japan, mask depicts a variety of perceived expressions. India use masks in Hindu festivals and to depict popular puranic characters. In South India, Kathakali dancers wear masks to depict good and evil characters. Korea has religious and artistic masks for enacting people, animals and supernatural beings. Chinese use masks for traditional opera.
  • Ritualistic and Ceremonial Masks: In Indonesia, Bali, and Java, masks are used to honor ancestors and deities of planting and harvesting. In Sri Lanka, masks are used in processions, carnivals and curative rituals.
  • Religious Masks: Mongolians use masks as Dancing Demons to destroy the evil accrued during the past year. Nepal use masks to represent deities, such as Ganesh and Bhairava. In India, masks represent deities. Shiva and Shakti are considered extremely powerful. In Papua New Guinea, masks are mounted in homes and important locations as protection from marauding spirits.

Red Indians

Red Indians use masks in war rituals, healing rituals, shaman rituals, rituals initiating a young man into the tribe, as decoration, in entertainment and given as gifts.

Tribal

In tribes, masks are based on a purpose, story of origin and worn as a ceremonial costume. Masks are oiled and decorated with feathers, cowrie shells, colored beads, bone, animal skins and vegetable fiber. Masks represent the spirits of ancestors or the gods worshipped in the community.

Ethnic Masks as Home Décor

Ethnic masks are a breathtaking work of art that has been used as home decor since centuries. It gives depth and texture to the wall and complement with the rest of the decors.

Masks are incredibly decorative and make your home décor unique, giving a powerful protecting-energizing charm and good luck cure.

Ensure there is enough light so that it can be appreciated better but save it from direct sunlight as it might harm/ damage the piece/s.

No matter what your preference or style is, a home decorated with ethnic mask gives a rich and regal look, brings authentic depth, and makes the place look trendy and stylish.

Pattachitra Masks

Pattachitra is the oldest and popular art form of Odisha famous for its intricate details and mythological narratives and folktales in paintings and masks. The ethnic masks depict puranic characters from Hindu mythology such as Lord Hanuman, Ravan, Goddesses Kali, and Lord Shiva. Paper and papier mache is used as a raw material and colors from natural shells, minerals and stones. Tools such as pencils, erasers, fine brushes, scissors and rubbing stones (Chikana and Khadar) are used.

The process starts with giving an outline of the face, filling in details such as nose, eyes, ears, lips, and finally adding ornaments and colors.

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