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👀 Mask It Till You Make It
#314 | Prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
Some time ago, I went on a trip with a bunch of friends to one of West Bengal's greenest districts: Purulia. Purulia is a land of rivers, lakes, hills and forests. It is also a land where the blatant flaws of our current societal, political and economic systems bare their fangs unabashedly for all to see.
One of our stops in Purulia was a quaint little village called Mukhosh Graam (Mask Village). The village is home to families who have been making masks for generations. They specialise in "Chhau" masks, but to meet the demands of late capitalism, we saw them working on Kathakali masks, circus masks and other types of decorative masks.
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Chhau is a martial dance form of tribal origin, traditionally performed by communities in Purulia and some other parts of Eastern India. The Purulia Chhau Mask, handmade by the residents of Mukhosh Gram, are distinguished by their elaborate headgear, flared nostrils, bloodshot eyes and aggressive facial contours.
If you want to read more about Mukhosh Gram, read this article by travel writer Rangan Datta, where he shares some fascinating insight into the lives of these mask-makers (and the evolution of mask-making materials).
Now let's get to my Thing for today: Second Face: Museum of Cultural Masks - a crowd-sourced collection of masks from different cultures and contexts around the world. Choose a location and explore the myriad ways in which people have crafted their "second faces" across the breadths of time and space.