Lankans wore masks for health long before Covid! They also danced in them with drums and believed that this way a person could be cured, driving out the demons of disease. Only the masks were made of wood, and the process of making them was labor-intensive and painstaking work.
The center for the production of such masks is the city of Ambalangoda. Here you can see masters at work, ancient and modern masks and a spectacular theatrical performance with them.
The masks are carved from Kaduru wood. First, it is dried, then the base is isolated and the material is sent to smoke for a week. When the wood is ready, the craftsman carves facial features into it, then the mask is sanded, polished and painted with bright colors.
There are 3 types of masks:
- Raksha are intended for religious holidays and festivals. The traditional Raksha mask is the face of a demon with bulging eyes, a protruding tongue and huge fangs. On his head he always has a high hairstyle, often made of peacock snakes or tongues of flame.
- Kolam is worn during theatrical performances. According to legend, the pregnant wife of the first king of Sammat once (apparently under the influence of hormones) demanded that she be given a “Mask Show”. And everyone was at a loss, because no one knew anything about any masks then. But the gods had mercy and sent the artisans the secret of making Kolam, and the script, where would we be without it.
This legend is still reflected in the performances of modern actors. And in the museum you can see masks of the king and queen, more than 200 years old!
- Sunny cast out demons from the sick. Sri Lankans believe that there are 18 different demons that make people sick. For example, Kadawata Sunny causes nervousness, and Selesma Sunny causes headaches and fatigue.
Now, when you stand in a traffic jam for hours or are once again delayed in the office, know: it’s not the people and the work that make you feel bad. The demons just prevailed) Well, fly to Sri Lanka, we will treat you! With masks, dancing and the sea, of course. In Ambalangoda it is fabulous)