Hayavadana

by

Girish Karnad

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Hayavadana can help.
Masks Symbol Icon

While masks are used in theatre for many different purposes, in Hayavadana masks represent a character’s incompleteness. For each character that has a mask, the mask represents the incompatibility between the character’s head and body. In the puja to Ganesha, a mask is brought out that represents the god, who has the head of an elephant and the body of a boy. The actors portraying Devadatta, Kapila, and Hayavadana also have masks, because their heads are (or become) incongruous with their bodies. Though the masks also make the audience members aware that they are watching a play because they go against a more realistic presentational style, they also remind the audience that the characters wearing them strive for a more complete human existence.

Masks Quotes in Hayavadana

The Hayavadana quotes below all refer to the symbol of Masks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford edition of Hayavadana published in 1976.
Act 1 Quotes

O single-tusked destroyer of incompleteness, we pay homage to you and start our play.

Related Characters: The Bhagavata (speaker)
Related Symbols: Masks
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

[Devadatta enters and sits on the chair. He is a slender, delicate-looking person and is wearing a pale-coloured mask. He is lost in thought. Kapila enters. He is powerfully built and wears a dark mask.]

Related Characters: Devadatta, Kapila
Related Symbols: Masks
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Hayavadana LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hayavadana PDF

Masks Symbol Timeline in Hayavadana

The timeline below shows where the symbol Masks appears in Hayavadana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
At the beginning of the performance, a mask of Ganesha (a Hindu god with the head of an elephant and the body of... (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
The Bhagavata remains in disbelief and chides Hayavadana for trying to scare people with a mask. He asks Hayavadana to take off his mask, but when Hayavadana does not reply, he... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...stage. Devadatta is described as a “slender, delicate-looking person” and he wears a pale colored mask. Kapila, for his part, is “powerfully built” and wears a dark mask. (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...to the goddess, and then fulfills his promise by cutting off his head (the actor’s mask), which involves some struggle. (full context)
Identity, Hybridity, and Incompleteness Theme Icon
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
Indian Culture and Nationalism Theme Icon
...excitement, accidentally switches Devadatta’s and Kapila’s heads (in the play, this is accomplished with the masks). (full context)
Act 2
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Metatheatre and Storytelling Theme Icon
...A stage direction notes that the actor who originally portrayed Devadatta now returns to that mask/role. The dolls imply that Padmini’s dreams have become particularly sexually explicit, and they fight over... (full context)