India & Himalayas,  Misc

Sri Lankan Maha Kola mask

Q: This Sri Lanka “mask” that, as I told you previously, is one of my favorites. At first, thinking it was a tourist item and I didn’t want to post it here. But after some internet research I decided to try as well because I never find another piece so colorful and careful made. I guess it could be vintage or made by an artist. Thank you again for your interest. 30 cm high and half-soft wood. She’s missing a piece on her hands. Monica, 1513

A: Sorry to take so long to post this. We seem to have corrected our computer problems.

I’m glad you sent this. Even though it is a small tourist piece meant to fit in your luggage, it is beautiful. Rarely do you see a large one that is as well done. Never pass up a chance to buy a really good reproduction.

Maha Kola is the boss of 18 demons of illness that are represented in the Sanni “Devil” Dance. Holding victims in his hands and mouth, Maha Kola is surrounded by snakes and by the 18 Sanniyas – the demons of blindness, cholera, boils, and other pestilences, each of whom is given its own mask. As the curing ceremony proceeds, a ritual specialist propitiates the appropriate demons on behalf of the patient and his family. When done, the demons are dismissed and the area is ritually cleansed of any lingering bad influences. B+

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