Dance of Purulia_____________________________
The faint rhythmic drum beats Tak-Jha-Tak-Jha-Tik-Jha-Tete Khiti Tak fades
into the dusky moor of a village in Purulia. During spring, the month
of March-April, the hardworking village folks forget their hardships to
give an artistic form to the ancient culture of the heroic Choudance.
Based on all the puranic Gods and Goddesses they present their heroic
dances from the chapters of our epic. The victory
of the good over the evil is the central theme of most of the dances.
'Mahisaur Bodh', 'Mahirabon Bodh', 'Kiratarjun', 'Abhimanyu Bodh', 'Bokasur
Bodh' are some of the subjects of these heroic dances. It is noticeable
that women folk
do not participate in these dances but their characters
are played by the men. These ethnic dances commence from the 13th -14th
of April (Shib's Gajan) and continue till the end of May (Rohin period).
Masks formed an integral part of all the ethnic tribes of ancient civilizations.
Cures to illness and pains were relied on witchcraft and the magic cult.
Masks of imaginative Gods and Goddesses and animals were used to instill
fear and faith in the common folks. Mask Makers(Mohagora)______________________
In the chirda village of Bagmundi near Purulia the 'Pals', 'Sil', 'Dutta',
'Garai', 'Silmura', 'Bhatt' are engaged in the mask
making business. Farmers too look for a second livelihood by making these
masks. There is a marked difference between the masks of a God and an
Asur. The mask of a God has an aura of
divinity in it while the mask of
an Asura can be distinguished by its large eyes and protruding teeth. A
clay model of a mask is first made and dried in direct sunlight to make
hard. This is the first step known as 'Mati Gora'. It is then covered
with powdered ash. Then layers of old newspapers moist with gum are pasted
on this powdered layer. A thin layer of fine clay will be applied known
as "Kabij Lapa". On drying, old torn cloth are pastedon it effectively.
The mask is then polished, "Tapi Palish", with a wooden spatula.
With a small tool, "batali" the features of the face are defined
and cleaned. This
is known as "Khushni Khoncha". A layer of clay water is applied
on it. On drying a layer of zinc oxide or"khori mati"
on it. According to the characters the mask is painted and decorated.
The artisans are well versed in the use of colours.Dark
yellow or bright orange are the colours used for Gods and Goddesses
like Devi Durga, Lakhmi and Kartik. White is generally used for Lord Shiva, Ganesh and Goddess
Saraswati. Goddess Kali is painted black or blue. A talisman or a tilak
is applied on the forehead of Lord Rama and Krishna. The Asuras are painted
in black or deep green with thick mustaches, protruding teeth and large
of the mask__________________________
Silver and golden foil cut in different shapes, string of beads, pith
works, and coloured paper flowers, feathers of hens and peacocks are used
for decorating the masks. A type of oil is applied on the mask for a fine
finish. Many masks are required for performing chou dance, to bring in
variety to the performance but the exorbitant prices of the masks along
with the cost of the drums, becomes nearly impossible for professionals
to perform let alone non professionals.
This piece of art is in great demand in our country and abroad. Different
institutions and organisations decorate their places with these beautiful
masks to add value to their institutions.