…by Anura Guruge
Michnel Folsom demonstrating one of his Sri Lanka Devil Masks. Click to see the picture in FULL SIZE.
Sri Lankan (or Ceylonese) Devil Masks are iconic, increasingly rare works of art. They are used in a form of exorcism to drive away ‘naughty’ devils that may have infiltrated susceptible humans. Usual ‘possessed by the devil’ belief that transcends religions and cultures and goes back thousands of years.
There are different masks to scare off different devils. The real ones, used in the ceremonies, are full size in that they are strapped onto the face of the dancer (who is typically male). Loud, pulsating drumming, incense, fire and lots of noise augment the shock value of the masks. I remember at least two ceremonies that I attended — and NO they were not for me. [My father ONLY started using the expression: ‘THE Devil takes good care of his own‘ to describe ME, his only progeny, after we left Ceylon (a week before my 14th birthday) and the teenage hormones kicked in.] In both cases they involved cousins. In addition to the Devil Dancing there was another ceremony, not as colorful or boisterous, to keep spirits away from a house. That involved burying little pots of ‘treasure’ in the four corners of the property. It was all superstition and mumbo–jumbo.
Click to watch a fairly representative video, on YouTube, of a Sri Lankan devil dance. There are more at You Tube.
Here is a picture gallery of masks at Flickr. I have the first one they show and the 5th. Click to, with luck, get to Flickr.
I have three or four show masks — i.e., smaller masks made for tourists! These were the ones for sale in Laconia at the Multicultural Day. I have mine mounted (other than in the winter months) in our covered deck, facing towards our famous neighbor in the hope that they will, by some miracle, stop him from trespassing (in every sense of that word). They don’t, alas, seem to work that well.
These masks are worth collecting. Mr. Folsom, like Mr. Johnson of ‘Fibonacci Letterpress‘, is another that does not have a Web presence, though he claimed that he had one but gave up when it did not bring him any business. I understand and sympathize. On average, across my many Web sites and blogs, I get, each and every day an average of close to 1,000 hits — but as Deanna loves to point out I make no money from those hits. Yes, I have had days, typically when there is a cardinal creating consistory or when Rome Reports or Vatican Radio mentions me by name, when I have had 6,000 hits in a day. But, still no nothing monetary to show for it. C’est la vie.
His prices are good. I saw a few for under $30. You might definitely want to get one. If you are interested contact me. My contact information is on the sidebar >>>>. I will coordinate with Mr. Folsom. [If you are wondering WHY that names sounds familiar click for this YouTube video, sit back and enjoy. Yes, I am a big Cash fan.]