Masks and their manifold forms are a very significant mode of cultural expression. This is one of the many ways through which cultures have given voice to their powerful cognition and most subtle emotions, to define their inner and outer realities. Mask refers to the total personality of a person rather than as aspect of the self. It also refers to disguise that hides the real identity of a person. Mask suggests the presence of the human body, even as it plays with its absences. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been building up a collection of masks to represent the richness and variety of masking traditions from around the world. Concentrating on living traditions of masking, about 700 masks from over 20 countries have now been collected, with more on the way.
This interactive multimedia application helps users to browse through the collection by region, by groups of masks as used in performance, by the kinds of images represented, and by some of the ways in which masks have been used. Some basic information about these masks and their traditions has been provided and, where possible, we have made available still pictures and video clips to allow users to have a better sense of the masks embodied.