As a means of hiding our face behind a crafted facade that doesn’t give away our real emotions or one that only projects a singular emotion, masks have perhaps existed for as long as humanity has. In some form or the other, they have been part of most cultures and can also be reflections of each culture’s identity, aesthetics, and values.
Bhumika Singh, a research scholar based in Delhi, has been studying the masks of the world extensively inlcuding ones from Africa, Mexico, Japan, and Nepal. She also mantains a special focus on Indian masks and the plurality of cultures that have existed and continue to do so within the nation. While Bhumika’s dedicated instagram for her mask project — 'Kirdaar-E-Naqaab' is a dedicated space where she delves into the stories and cultural relevance behind masks from around the world.
From participating in varying art-related workshops to headlining the God, Demons and Masks Exhibit at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts in the capital that she visited, she talks extensively about the pursuit of her research through her personal page while sharing her experiences attending a number of varied workshops.
In moving beyond learning and researching, Bhumika has recently become more hands-on with Kirdaar-E-Naqaab and has started creating custom handmade mask charms that have cultural relevance, whether that is traditional, or popular. While she is still in the process of learning and experimenting, each mask that she crafts is suffused with her passion for masks. Most importantly, it is made by somebody who truly understands the importance of masks in the bigger picture of history and cultural narrative. From a few Studio Ghibli masks to those inspired by the masks of the African Ewe Culture or the Tibetan Cham, she only features a limited collection.
While Bhumika’s page is a patchwork of research, education, curation and creation, the focus is singular and centers on the sociocultural importance of the mask as a cultural artefact, especially in the South Asian context. While the venture cannot be put into a singular box, it captures the researcher’s foray of delving into a truly interesting topic and the many manifestations and interactions with it that are captured in a personal format. From attending mask-making workshops to crafting masks herself from curating them and buying them from the Tibetan settlement in Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi to attending mask-focused exhibits at galleries of repute and even travelling to remote villages to learn about their mask-making techniques, Bhumika Singh’s page is a veritable source of information if you are eager to learn about masks and the cultural significance they hold.
You can follow her here.
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