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RAMAYANA MASKS & Mask of Asia : China


A glorious civilization of China, which is known to have existed for 5,000 years, is a land filled with diverse people with different beliefs and cultures. Suppose we were to explore the story of the Chinese masks that had evolved and developed into the world-renounce Chinese opera, the play that adapted mask-making into face-painting to reflect each character’s personality. Numerous academics had researched masks from every part of China, which can be seen in large textbooks. The masks from each province, each ethnic group has a different aesthetic. Some parts of China have received an influence from religious beliefs, especially from Mahayana Buddhism. A Chinese monk named Faxian copied the sacred Buddhist texts and brought them back to China after visiting Nalanda. It is widely influential in Tibet.

Even though the establishment of a trade route to India has led to the import of western items to China through the center of commerce in Suvarnabhumi, the Indus Valley civilization’s influence could not create an impact on the ancient Chinese civilization. The Chinese mask-making art still reflects the supernatural beliefs and the belief in ghosts without an influence from Brahmanism or Hinduism, unlike in Suvarnabhumi.

The Chinese masks in MOCA BANGKOK’s collections on display came from various ethnic groups, for example, from the Yao people in the southern part of China, the Zhuang people in Yunnan and Guangxi, the Gelao people in Guizhou and Hunan. These masks are called Norzi, which are often seen in villages and rural areas, sometimes arranged in a parade to blow away various calamities and protect them from sickness. And Tizi, which comes in multiple forms. Tizi’s masks often perform to encourage patriotism and rally the people together with the tales of brave ancestors and mighty emperors.