Ariyapala Mask Factory and Museum - Atlas Obscura

Ariyapala Mask Factory and Museum

Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka

Beautiful and terrifying masks displayed in the island’s only mask library. 


Ariyapala Mask Factory and Museum is full of rich, colorful, and sometimes terrifying masks hand-crafted and painted by locals.  The museum contains face masks of all sizes, shapes, and inspirations made for traditional dances, plays, and decorative purposes.

Some of the more terrifying masks are meant to ward off evil spirits and are hundreds of years old. The museum also contains Sri Lanka’s only mask library, dedicated to works about ancient plays and mask-making techniques. Most masks are carved from the poison nut tree because of its smooth, pliable wood.  

The “factory” is more of a small workshop where one can watch the artisans at work as they carve and paint the masks. It is a fifth-generation owned enterprise and represents a national dying art form. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase your own modern-made mask.

Know Before You Go

Visiting the museum is free and the owners will explain the different masks, their meaning, and how they are made.  If you do not purchase a mask, it is suggested to make a small donation.

The museum is also sometimes called the Ambalangoda Mask Museum for the village in which it resides.

In partnership with KAYAK

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