Paper mache mask
The reality of life can be closely seen in the villages of our country. India has often been described as a colourful country. Following the same, the rich craft heritage can be seen in Raghurajpur - the first heritage craft village in Puri, Odisha. It is home to the art of painting Patachitra, along with various other crafts such as Tussar paintings, palm leaf engraving, carving in stone, wood and also toys made in cow dung and paper mache.
These masks, termed as ‘Kagaja Mukha’ were worn by dance and act performers since the eleventh century. They are now used to decorate the walls of living spaces and on drapery to add dramatic character on stage. The folk theatre makes use of masks made in paper and shola pith and painted in vivid colours.
The base structure of paper mache masks is entirely moulded from natural origin materials - paper pulp, flour, clay and cow dung mixture. Powder of tamarind seeds is an adhesive component mixed with water proportionately in order to form a slurry, which is then cast in the desired shape. The composite material is sustaining and durable. It is then bone dried, which protects it from mould growth and eventual rotting. A coat of white paint is applied to smoothen the layer and add up a clear canvas surface that will enhance the colours painted over it. Organic or acrylic pigments are used for artistic rendition of the masks, which are then finally coated with enamel for the glaze.