Renowned mask maker Hemchandra Goswami of Shree Shree Samaguri Satra of Majuli has asked the youths of Assam to enrich themselves with the cultural legacy left behind by Srimanta Sankardeva.
Delivering the Professor Nirmal Goswami Memorial Lecture and demonstration programme at Rajabari in Jorhat (Assam) on Saturday, Goswami said that while Western literature and culture had a global presence, the art and culture pioneered by the 16th century religious and social reformer Srimanta Sankardeva was at par and had the potential of attracting world attention.
“Our new generation should delve deep into the fine arts created by the great saint and spread this culture be it in the sphere of music, drama, song or dance,” Goswami said. The lecture on Bhaona mukha (mask), its evolution and application-cum-demonstration was organised by the Asom Sattriya Sangeet Mahavidyalaya at Rajabari here in association with the Satriya Kendra, Guwahati, under Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Late Nirmal Goswami, a former Professor of Jagannath Barooah College, Jorhat, was the founder-principal of the Asom Sattriya Sangeet Mahavidyalaya and contributed to the promotion and preservation of Sattriya culture. Goswami who was accompanied by a group of associate artistes gave a detailed presentation on the traditional art of mask making with a live demonstration.
The interesting craft of mask-making began with the making of a three-dimensional bamboo framework for the face, which was layered with strips of cloth dipped in sticky clay soil from the banks of the Brahmaputra. Next, a mix of cow dung and clay was used to create the contours of the face. The finishing touches are given with jute fibre or cotton for beards and painted over with hengul haital and other organic colours. Goswami’s associates wore masks and enacted a bhaona scene as part of the demo.
Goswami, whose masks have been bought mostly by foreign tourists after he made them purse size; said that these had been highly appreciated by the British Museum officials and had been exhibited in the museum in London as their USP was their eco-friendly quality. Earlier, the Director of Dr Bhupen Hazarika Centre for Studies in Performing Arts of the Dibrugarh University, Jyoti Prasad Saikia, inaugurated the programme.