Painted face mask, Sri Lankan, 1771-1920.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 23cm x 32cm

Painted face mask, Sri Lankan, 1771-1920.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


This wooden mask shows a brown-faced, gap-toothed, wrinkled man, posibly a peasant from the kolam masked play, and was worn for healing rituals. In some forms of traditional medicine, healing powers lie in people's belief in supernatural powers. In societies in which illnes is believed to be caused by the presence of evil spirits, a medicine man or shaman performs rituals, often involving dancing and chanting, to rid the body of spirits. Masks play important roles in religious, healing, exorcism and funerary rituals.

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