Masks like this one are used in Sri Lanka by dancers to act out a folk drama called Kolam. The masks are carved from wood from the local Kaduru tree, a type of balsa which is light and easy to carve. After the wood is dried and carved according to descriptions in ancient manuscripts, the mask is smoothed with leaves and then painted. A mask's expression and colors are chosen to represent a specific role in the play. The protruding eyes are a common characteristic of the Sri Lankan mask, as is the open mouth with individually carved and painted teeth. The details, such as the carved ears and the nostrils, are well done.
This example is a healing mask, used in "demon dances" to expel evil demons that cause diseases. It is surmounted by a carved, painted green cobra, representing folk medicine cures for high fevers. The mask is 6 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches from top to bottom. It projects 3 1/4 inches from the wall at the tip of the nose and weighs a mere 6 ounces, perfect for a spot where you need something that is not heavy or bulky. A former owner installed screw eyes and a wire for hanging; there is also a hole at the top behind the snake, should you want to hang it from a a leather thong or loop of raffia. It's in excellent condition, with no chips or cracks. It's a very intriguing carving.