Arshiya Sethi

Masks and Myths in Indian Performing Arts

This talk does not come from the rarified scholarship, of academia, but from a lifetime spent living with the arts and in making connections between aspects of Indian thought and performance ideas. These are linkages that books, writing and people don’t talk about. They outline the philosophy of myth and what it means to a community and then how masks are representations of myth.

Masks in the Indian performing art traditions fulfill a unique purpose. They humanize ideals, concepts and allegorical characters that epitomize eternal and enduring values.

Ideals, concepts and allegorical characters that epitomize eternal and enduring values, are also the subject of myths. Myth builds the archetype and archetype builds the social being. Lessons drawn from myth, when translated on to a paradigm of reality, serve as centripetal forces by collecting people around shared ideals.

Masks are symbolic abstractions of the myth’s message.  As a compelling performance device, both the myth and the mask are used extensively in Indian tradition, serving as a bridge between the poet’s world and ours, between people of shared traditions, and between the many different peoples of the modern world.

Time: 60 minutes

AV Requirements:

  1. Laptop or Computer to play CD's
  2. LCD/DLP Projector
  3. Screen
  4. Microphone
  5. White Board, Markers and Duster
© Arshiya Sethi