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 Amukku Sanni, and displays the facial features of a person vomiting.

Cultural context


Iconographic meaning

The distorted facial features represent a person suffering from fits of vomiting.

Physical description

Mask depicting Amuku Sanniya (who represents vomiting) with a brown face, slightly raised black eyebrows, bulging eyes with a crescent-shaped hole under each, a small nose, and an open mouth with downturned red lips, a protruding tongue, and a row of white upper teeth. There are three black incised lines across the forehead. A strip of white fabric is tied through two small round holes on either side of mask. A label on the reverse side of the mask reads: "AMUKU SANNI: Vomiting," in typewritten characters, and the number "26" written in blue ink.