photo courtesy Biswarup Sarkar
Sri Lankan tovil mask. National Museum Scotland
In Sri Lanka traditional masks are not just show-pieces or curios to decorate apartments. Here they still have meaningful existence in rituals and performances. Masks worn during so called demon dances are called tovil masks. During a tovil ceremony the dancer has to impersonate the demon and to converse freely with the exorcist. So many of the masks worn in these ceremonies are only half-cut masks and do not cover the entire face and head. They are light and easy to talk through.
There is a specialized group of tovil masks called sanni masks. Many Sri Lankans believe that diseases are results of demonic activity and 18 demons that cause sicknesses are represented by the sanni masks. Among the 18 deseases are following: delirium, abdominal pain, blindness, lameness, dumbness, deafness and insomnia, paralysis, cold shivers, disease of the stomach, fainting, high fever.
Shiels (Dhal), Lucknow, first half 19th century. Silver gilt, brass, enamel and diamonds. Photo The Royal Collection Trust
Thai flower garlands, photo courtesy edna astronomia-estrada
Thai floral decoration is an art that has been in practice since the early times of history. It makes use not only of flowers but also leaves and branches and some additional materials such as incense sticks or candles. The most common of all the country's floral creations are garlands known as malai. They are made by stringing together various flower combinations that depend on seasonal blooms and the creator's imagination. The mixture, however, will always include one or more fragrant flowers, usually jasmine buds and roses. Garlands range from simple to highly complex and are placed as offerings on shrines, presented to honoured guests and used on many other special occasions.
Wood carved decoration of the Kumari house, Basantapur
One of the things that Nepal can really be proud about is its traditional art of woodcarving. You can stumble upon beautiful pieces of wood-carved art literally at any corner of Kathmandu. Struts, pillars and beams of the temples, doors and windows of the common houses and office buildings, photo- and mirror frames, furniture - everything that is wooden is decorated either with finely carved figures or with intricate patterns.
The tradition of woodcarving in Nepal goes back to the 12 century. Since then, the carvers have achieved great skill by passing secrets from generation to generation and acquiring and sharing new techniques. In the Newar community, to which wood carvers mostly belong to, medieval texts are still kept - instructions and rules for wood carving, which are used in practice until now. For example, the masters still do not use any nails or glue to create their works.