India & Himalayas

Deformity masks heal the sick

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Q:  I found this at a thrift shop in Boca Raton. So it is likely completely out of context. They didn’t want much for it, so I bought it, but I can’t really figure out where it is from? It is very small, more of a decorative carving at 6″ X 4″.  Rick,

A:  You found an exorcism mask from Sri Lanka. In the exorcism dance rituals and folk plays of that island nation, devils, animals, and humans are represented by elaborately carved and painted masks. This character would have been part of a healing ritual specifically for clef palate or some other mouth condition. From pictures it is always hard to determine the age. Most deformity masks are made to be worn, but a small one like this could have some ritual significance… or a nice souvenir for tourists.   A-

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