Craftspeople from Kerala
These intricately painted teak wood heads depict one of the many styles of elaborate facial makeup that form an integral part of traditional Theyyam dance performances in Kerala. Theyyam is a socio-religious performance and form of ritual worship that has been practised for several centuries in Northern Kerala to propitiate the gods, ancestral spirits and heroes. Theyyam is said to have more than 400 forms, each with a unique name and story to tell. The performers, who are made-up from head to toe and wear oversized headgear, masks, breast plates, skirts and arm ornaments, spend hours preparing themselves for the ritual.