Traditional carved masks with bright tropical colors is a much loved souvenir for any tourist visiting this wonderful island Sri Lanka. A mask will be a beautiful addition to a home or office. Painted faces of monsters from folk tales adorn the masks of different colors.
In Sri Lanka, masks are used for mask dances. According to traditional beliefs, hanging masks in the household cast off the evil eye. Masks are used for traditional low country dances (Southern regions of Sri Lanka).There are three types of mask dances Kolam (Folktale), Raksha (Demon) and Sanni (Devil Dance). Of these three types of masks, lay people use the Kolam masks for storytelling dances. Raksha masks are used to ward off evil as well as an aid in festivals. Sanni masks are used in healing ceremonies (to drive away evil spirits and curing specific illnesses) and these masks are worn by an edura (an artist/exorcist). The majority of masks are used for traditional beliefs, the basis of the Sanni Yakuma (devil dance). There are 18 different Sanni masks, each specializing in curing illnesses.
Traditional Sri Lankan mask is hand carved by an edura (exorcist), out of local wood and polished using certain plant leaves. Then the mask is painted using natural organic and mineral based pigments.
Kaduru wood, the wood of Kaduru tree, a very light timber (Strychnos nux vomica) is suitable for production of masks as properly seasoned wood material strikes with distinctive softness and also can be used to be carved using a chisel. Before carving masks, logs of wood are dried in the sun for some time and sawn into wood bars of suitable sizes to make masks. The final product is a masterpiece and displays the skilled craftsmanship of craftsmen.