The number of masks in Indian Museum runs into hundreds and acquisitions date from the colonial period to 2000.
The collection has masks from not only India but also Australia, New Zealand, Central America, Africa, Bhutan and Nepal.
Most are dance masks of ancient folk traditions. Like the torso-covering Satriya mask of Narasimha used in Assam’s indigenous theatre, the Bhaona, or the brass mask of guardian spirit Bhuta of Karnataka or the golden deer from Bengal’s Gamira Dance ‘Ram Banbas Yatra’. There are masks of the Maoris and native Americans as well.
The mask gallery on the museum’s top floor was thrown open to the public in 2010. But it had to be shut in 2014 when some masks got drenched in rainwater because of a leaking roof.
MUSEUM TREASURE TROVE
The gallery, revamped and redesigned by curator Mita Chakraborty, will reopen on Tuesday. Eight-five items will be on display.
“Many major museums have masks but few museums have a gallery dedicated solely to masks,” director Jayanta Sengupta said. “We have a significant collection. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations has decided to make Indian Museum the nodal agency for a large comprehensive exposition on Masks of India, which will be showcased in the next edition of The Festival of India. We will select items from museums across the country.”
The museum has arranged for a school workshop on Chhou and Gamira mask-making to mark the reopening.
Birinchi Medhi, professor of Gauhati University’s anthropology department, will give a special lecture on ‘Satriya Mask’ from 2pm. Sarit K. Chaudhuri, director, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, will inaugurate the gallery at 3pm. A mask dance is on the cards.
source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / by Sebanti Sarkar / September 27th, 2016