Mask-making is a skill that has been creatively practiced by artists in Orissa for a long time. The state has a history of folk theatre also known as 'Jatra'. The performing artists use masks based on their characterizations. These are made of papier-mache and cowdung, because in India, cows are an important part of daily life and considered sacred. Their dung is used as a base for a variety of artistic creations that build a hidden bond between the animal and the observer. Lord Jagannath and his triad were the only themes made initially but increasingly faces of other gods and goddesses and mythological characters are being made too.
The final form of the mask is painted in bright colors, beginning with lighter colors and progressing to the dark. These are either procured from the nearby markets or made at home. Red is the most expensive of them all and black is the cheapest because it is made at home with kaajal (soot). Traditional details like earrings, nose-ring and headgear make these masks characteristic of Orissa.
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