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This Kala centered lintel shows some more of the beautiful flowers and vegetation springing from the creatures coming from Kala's mouth,  all the way to the Makara at the bottom corners

THE MASK OF KALA

The Kala is a being that represents change, and the destructive nature of time itself. The god Shiva, who can be found mounted on a Kala on the bas relief in Banteay Srei(right), "is the root and support of the universe and is responsible for its endless creation, destruction, and re-creation"(Norton Simon Museum). Some say that mythology behind Kala are inspired by prehistoric practices of mounting skulls on walls as a protective magic. The lower jaws of those skulls rotted away, leading to the jawless design of Kala.

This project constructing a mask of Kala stemmed from an introductory design class where each student researched the mythology of a certain civilization(in this case the Ancient Khmer people of what is now Cambodia) to find a creature to construct a theatrical mask of. My choice was the powerful, beautiful, and terrifying Kala.

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Kala relief, Banteay Srei, 10th century

After digging through the many different bas relief of Kala, I drew a preliminary sketch to plan out the mask design. Notes on this sketch include some aesthetic and structural choices for the final piece. Baseline requirements for the construction of the mask included: The user had to be able to see and hear outside activity with relative ease as well as being able to make general characteristic movements. Their whole face had to be covered, and the aesthetic choices either had to be historically accurate to the original mythology or represent the sculpture and art made of that creature.

To start, I secured chicken wire to a backwards baseball cap, then cut and bent it to achieve the general shape of the head. Not pictured was using masking tape to cover the ends of the chicken wire for safety's sake.

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The mask after finishing the layers of paper mache. 

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After all the pieces were put together, the mask became front heavy, so a weight was taped to the brim of the baseball cap to level the mask and to allow more movement.

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The final product. I chose to paint this mask representing the sandstone bas relief that can be admired in temples like Angkor Wat, and Banteay Srei. The Nose is sculpted from a cup and more chicken wire, the 'whiskers' are pipe cleaners, and the teeth, ears, eyes, and 'crown' are all carved from Styrofoam. The paint treatment is acrylic paint mixed with sand to create a stone like texture, and  some subtle shading done with watered down brown paint I brushed and sprayed on. The vines hanging from the upper jaw are in spirit of all the wildlife that has grown in the almost forgotten temple mountians of the Khmer people, including the rumduol, a beautiful five pedal flower that also happens to be Cambodia's national flower.

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