The Satra Masks Of Majuli

Some of these have also been exhibited museums like the Victoria & Albert Museum in London
Hemchandra Goswami, who is widely acclaimed for his extraordinary skills of mask making, absorbed in his creation in Chamaguri Satra in Majuli       Abhilekh Saikia/Shutterstock
Hemchandra Goswami, who is widely acclaimed for his extraordinary skills of mask making, absorbed in his creation in Chamaguri Satra in Majuli Abhilekh Saikia/Shutterstock

Majuli on the Brahmaputra in Assam is is a unique riverine delta that is a result of the dynamics of the vast river system. It has carved a special place for itself, especially for its craft of mask-making. The island is known to be the seat of neo-Vaishnavite culture of Assam and houses satras or monasteries.  The satras in Majuli predate the birth of the island. In the early 16th century, the great Assamese Vaishnavite reformer and saint Srimanta Shankardev established the first satra at Belguri, the western part of Majuli, which no longer exists, having been washed away due to erosion. 

These ancient satras have a tradition of tribal art, folk culture and heritage of the Ahom kingdom. Each satra has a distinct identity and serves as a sanctorum to a different art form. For instance, the Auniati satra stores ancient artefacts and is famous for traditional Mishing tribal dances and paalnaam, a congregational prayer. The Dakhinpat and Garamur satras stage theatre performances raas leela and bhaonas, which make use of dramatic masks.

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