Traditional Mask Making
10 August 2023
The art of Sri Lankan Masks was existing from time immemorial. Mask carving is a local tradition in the southern coastal region in Sri Lanka. Ambalangoda is well known for traditional masks carvings and masks dancing. Masks are created for three different types of dancing rituals ‘Raksha’, ‘Sanni’ and ‘Kolam’. The origins of Raksha and Sanni masks run far into history. Raksha are exotic demons, with bulging eyes and bloodthirsty, protruding tongues. The Sanni masks are more distorted and disturbing. Kolam, (Comedian) the last category, was born during the colonial period. They are satires, and hit out at that early colonial society in subtle, refined ways.
Apart from masks, puppetry is yet another discovery of the craftsmen. Rukada is what a puppet is called in Sri Lanka. It literally means “figure” or “doll that is made of wood”. It started with the south – eastern artists in the country, who made masks. Puppetry has been a basic folk art in Sri Lanka, but it started to become famous in the country about 300 years ago.