This colorful, decorative Chhau mask of Goddess Durga,
Some people decorate the entrance to their house using these Chhau masks. Chhau masks are also a perfect gift item. They epitomize roots of Indian culture, represent epic characters, and are in a way revered by the makers of these Chhau masks. The bright colors used, the time spent by the artist to make the Chhau mask, and the diligence that goes in making the masks is admirable. While traveling to a different country you can carry these Chhau masks and gift them to your friends. The receiver will be immensely pleased with the features of the masks, their colors, and vibrancies. They will go very well with ethnic decor!
Traditionally these Masks form an integral part of Chhau Dance, a genre of Indian tribal martial dance which is popular in the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. The masks are completely handmade. They are made using clay, mud and paper. The process is intricate and time consuming. First, a clay model of a mask is made from antel maati (sticky clay from the river) and then it is dried in sunlight. Then it is covered with powdered ash. Successive layers of soft paper pulp mixed with gum from mulberry plant are pasted on the cast. After the rough foundation, the final details are carved out by the skilled fingers of the artisans by applying a thin layer of fine clay. The entire thing is then dried in sun again.
On drying, the mask is wrapped in a clay-soaked muslin cloth for a smooth texture and then polished with a wooden spatula called kabeez. After a layer of zinc oxide, the mask is painted with bright colours and decorated according to the character.
The mask is made by Bhim Sutradhar, the Chau mask artist from Purulia, West Bengal.