Kerala is a significant seat of art, craft and culture of India. Kerala is one of the main centers where the conventional east blends with activist west. Though colonial influences had introduced various changes, yet the tradition of Kerala remained untouched, which is well evident in the arts and crafts of the state. One of the most well known forms of dance in Kerala is Kathakali, which holds a huge significance in the history and tradition of Kerala.
Kathakali is recognized for its unique form of make-up and dress. Kathakali Masks of Kerala are nothing but masks that replicate the faces of the Kathakali dancers with the colors and make up that are applied on the dancers' faces.
The Kathakali Masks are available as souvenirs and show pieces. The masks, made of clay or plaster of paris or paper mache, are the ideal decorative items. These curios are painted green at the base, and decorated with beards and black hair dos. The elaborate attires of the Kathakali dance make it attractive and unique to not only domestic tourists, but also the international visitors.
There are various distinctions in characters of the masks, depending on the color of the face, beard and the headdress. These differences are made according to the performance of the dancers and the role played by them. The green colored face represents the virtuous and noble, the 'kathi' or the knife symbolizes the proud, unrighteous and aggressive, the red beard represents the destructive and demonic, white 'thadi' or beard symbolizes the legendary and fantastic and the black beard represents the cave dwellers or tribal men. These different characters portray different divisions of society.
According to Indian mythology, the Kathakali Masks represent different moods and characteristics of the society. Different characters have different significances and it is believed that the people of Kerala prefer to keep the green colored masks in their homes, which symbolizes goodness and truth. Apart from the male characters, there is a female character named 'Minukku'. This character is not only restricted to representing the female, but it also represents Brahmin and the sages.
The multi-hued crafts and the works of art is a popular village industry of Kerala. The detailed and the intricate designs give an attractive edge to the masks. Tourists can buy these masks from the government emporiums and the local stalls. However, Do not forget to bargain before you buy your Kathakali masks!