Danushi De Silva, an international student from Sri Lanka will exhibit her “Face to Face Communication” exhibit from Sunday, April 28th to May 5th, at the Viewpoint Gallery, UCI Student Center. This exhibit features photographs of traditional ritual masks of Sri Lanka.
Photographs displayed are from the Colombo National Museum, the Ariyapala Museum in Ambalangoda, Traditional Puppet Art Museum in Dehiwela, and the “Gurugedera” mask festival held in Colombo. Some of the pictures display masks that are 150 to 200 years old. While some masks belong to folk entertainment, others fulfill a more important social function of curing illness.
The origins and myths related to traditional masks goes as far back as 2500 years. These ritual masks were part of traditional beliefs in the community that provided stability for natives during the pre-colonial period. The masks used for the purpose of curing of illness comprise of 18 distinctive masks representing 18 evil spirits responsible for illnesses. For example, “Sanni Yakuma” masks were part of an exorcism ritual. “Kolam” masks were used in folk dramas for entertainment and storytelling performances to convey messages of importance to the society. Masks declined during colonial times without the support of the village elites and when ancient masks were taken out of the country to museums in Europe. Masks are now mostly limited to cultural performances for tourists and for sale as artifacts. The ritual masks traditions are mostly rooted in the southern coastal belt of the island.
The cities famous for these traditions in Sri Lanka are Ambalangoda, Galle, Mathara and Mirrisa.
Danushi is an honors student in Sociology in the 2018-2019 cohort and her research topic focuses on the rehabilitated child soldiers of LTTE in post-war Sri Lanka.
She is a double major in International Studies and Sociology graduating in Spring 2019.
Event Details- When: Sunday, April 28 – Sunday, May 5 Where: Viewpoint Gallery, UCI Student Cente Source – Illuminations – UCI