For 55-year-old Manjulata Mahapatra, making beautiful masks is not just a hobby, but a way of life.
She collects stones with different colours, crushes them and adds other ingredients to make varied hues. “We create pulp by soaking waste cloth, paper and other natural things. The pulp is mixed with a variety of seeds and gums to ensure protection from termites. Later, we mould it into countless forms such as masks, toys and caps,” she says. She makes strikingly beautiful masks on mythological characters, animals and gods.
Manjulata Mahaptra says she uses blue, red, gold and yellow colours to make masks more attractive.
Different papier mache masks made by Manjulata Mahapatra and her son Prakash Mahapatra are on display at an exhibition organised as part of a national workshop on tribal and folk arts at Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay in the city. “There is lack of awareness among people about the traditional art forms. Measures should be taken by the government to revive the dying art forms,” she says. Manjulathahas trained thousands of youths in this art form of Odisha to preserve it for the next generation. Prices of masks range from `50 to `40,000 depending on the work.