Masks of the World

Festival Photos

(C) Haga Library

  Iou Islad, Kagoshima, JAPAN

The 1 st of the 8 th month of Lunisor Calender is the ceremonial day.   In Iou Island of Kagoshima, the local people wear the flower hats and dedicate their traditional local dancing with the beat of the drums carrying on their chests to wish for a good harvest.   As the dance goes on, all of the sudden, the monsters, ‘Mendon' appear from the forest in the shrine.   They wear the huge one meter width mask which is made of bamboo frame with paper and painted in red and black.   They hold the branch to hit the audience around.   They often try to the young girls.   They are meant to disturb the dancing to make disorder.     Mendons are played by the 14 years old local boys and they make their own masks.   On the festival day, they become tricky performers.

The God visit from Mountain
Touei, Aichi, JAPAN

The mountain God with the sacred red mask appears with the red costume.   Red color represent blood and shows the power fully filled in all over the body.   Red also is the symbol color to drive a evil spirit away.   In the northern village of Aich, they hold the flower festival from November to January.   In the festival, the Mountain God appear at mid night to the festival place.   The Mountain God wearing a sacred leaf and holding ax is welcomed by the audience.   The Mountain God dances around the place to pray for a growing forest, a safety and health for the local people.



Deer Dance
Yamada, Iwate, JAPAN

In Touhoku region (north part of Japan), there are many traditional dancing with animal masks.   In the autumn festival of Yamada town, they wear deer masks with two horns and sword in the middle.   They dance along with the beat of the drums carried on their chest to drive an evil spirit away.   They carry the wood on the back which has been shaved half way to look like ribbons. The wooden ribbons are the symbol of the sacred animals.  


In the villages of the Alps, they celebrate a New Year and parade around wearing the masks with the dolls representing the jobs which they wish to do for a year.   In Urnasch village, they still use the Julian calendar to decide a New Year which is January 14 th .   On the 13 th evening, they wear the masks and gather for the parade.   A young man dressed like a young lady wear the lady mask with the farmer dolls.   He wishes for health of the family and for a good year for domestic animals.   They parade along with yodel a song.

Bali Island, INDONESIA

In many village of Bali, the masks of Balong and Rnada is installed in the temples. The sacred lion of Barong use white magic to protect village people of Bali. While Rnad spell brack magic. The Barong and Rand havt never endless fighting. In Bali philosophy, good and evil fight eternally.


Bali Island, INDONESIA

Rand is a demon queen who spells black magic to spread epidemic and brings misfortunes to human. The sacred lions of Barong use white magic to protect village people from Randa. The Barong and the Rand have never endless fighting. In Bali philosophy, good and evil fight eternally.


Puno, PERU

In the festival of St. Pedro & St. Pablo, the God guardian of the village is transformed into the Eagle.   The village people welcome the God guardian with dancing and singing around.   The God guardian visits every house in the village to drive an evil spirit away.   The horns of the mask are made of hard paper and the eyes are glasses.   On the top of the mask, there is the eagle doll.   At the end of the festival, they surround the God guardian and destroy the mask.   It means the duty of the God guardian has been finished and its life comes to the end.   For the next festival, they make a new mask and the God guardian appears again.

Devil Dnace of Raksha
Ambalangoda, SRI LANKA

In Sri Lanka, there are many kinds of masks.   Kolam is the traditional mask play with the stories of God, King and Queen.   There are also the mask play with the stories of Devil and Demons.     The Raksha demon is popular among the village people, however, once the Raksha gets angry, people have to suffer.   The features of the mask like eyes coming out, huge nostrils and big white teeth are threatening enough.    The Raksha runs all over in the play even out from the stage to give delight to the audience.

Banishte, BULGARIA

In Bulgaria, they celebrate a New Year on January 17 th .   The local people who are dressed like wild animals and wild birds called ‘Sirvachkari' gather to parade around in the village.   The costumes are made of real birds and animals which they hunted in the previous year.   Some of the costumes are stitched with a few animal furs to look like sacred spirits.   They parade and visit every house in the village to celebrate a New year by singing and drinking.


Dama Celemony of Dogon Tribe
Bandiagara, MARI

 Dogon Tribe held a ceremony in every 12 years, They treat the sprit should of dead persons for 12 years.   The men stay in cave to make masks. In the mask the sprits of dead persons installed and give the power of dive away the devil spirits. During the 5 days ceremony, masked men perform the play.   The SIRIJI god who connect the spiritual world and human world appears. Also the Creative God of Anma appears.   The last scene is a buffalo and Hyena masked men tell the fortunes of Dogon Tribe.

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