About this object

History of use

Worn during curing ritual of the Sanni Yakuma ceremony, part of the Tovil series of dramas performed by Sinhalese ritual specialists and dancers. The Sanni Yakuma is intended to combat diseases and afflictions caused by the Sanni group of demons. These consist of 18 or more apparitions of the chief demon, Maha-kola-sanni. The officiating healer honours Buddha, then appeases the demons with offerings, dancing, and chanting. This mask represents Kalas Paliya, the pot-bearing apparition, a character which appears in the early stages of the Sanni Yakuma.

Cultural context


Iconographic meaning

Pink facial colour is used for the faces of kings Europeans, and some demons.

Physical description

Mask representing a male humanoid face with movable eyeballs, ovoid in shape, that are wired into open sockets. Nose with rounded tip and flared nostrils. Very wide mouth extending to small ears. Hinged lower jaw with a protruding lower lip. Grey string beard and moustache. Black cloth behind mouth opening. The Mask is pink with black lines on the forehead, and red and white lines on the brows, cheeks, and nostrils. The bridge and tip of the nose are painted yellow.