About this object

History of use

Courtier ? mask used in rural Kolam folk drama; traditionally performed in the open without a stage, during the night hours. Royal and court figures and other characters of drama introduced in prelude. Characters were both human and superhuman; human characters of low status caricatured. Origins of Kolam not definitely known but generally believed to have originated several hundred years ago.

Cultural context

propitiation; exorcism; entertainment

Iconographic meaning

Sideburns and moustache are associated with pride, and identify character as person of high rank. Headdress suggests royalty. Pink skin and use of yellow on face also indicate high standing, but parted lips usually reserved for lesser characters. Red rimmed eyes can indicate sore eyes

Physical description

Mask depicting a male humanoid face with a multicoloured crown that has a line and dot design, back hair around small projecting ears, black eyebrows, red-rimmed eyes that each have a crescent-shaped hole beneath, a pointed nose, a black moustache with upturned ends, and a smiling mouth with red lips. Twine is knotted through holes beneath the ears on either side.