BHOPAL: Wooden mask, Erajbala, of Muria community in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, is the second Exhibit of the Week of current month. Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, has displayed the exhibit on its social media platforms. The exhibition, which began from Monday, is part of museum’s online series. The length, width and height of the mask collected from Muria community in 1996 by museum are 51.5 cm , 14.5 cm and 9.5 cm respectively.
Museum director Praveen Kumar Mishra said masks are worn by community members on different occasions, which may either be ceremonial or purposive. Constituent material varies depending on the user. Every mask is a representation of a character, whether it may be a demon or a deity.
“Erajbala is a lightweight wooden mask worn by the Muria jester during the dance performance, especially on a ceremonial parade of Chherta and other festivals,” Mishra said.
Museum assistant keeper Sudeepa Roy said Chherta is one of the popular celebrations held with great fun by Muria boys and girls. The leading dancer with jester appearance is meant to entertain villagers. They visit every house and perform dance to ask for liquor, rice, pulses, and other food to arrange a feast.
The wooden mask worn by the jester is represented by two pairs of projected wooden horns, brass rings fixed as an orbit to the eyes, metal teeth, and moustaches of animal hair containing strips of hides. “However, this rare artifact is slowly disappearing from glorious tradition of Muria festivity,” Roy said.