Majuli district is a river island in Assam, surrounded by the river Brahmaputra. The island is a beautiful landscape of nature with land and aquatic flora and fauna, inhibited by different tribal and non tribal communities. The river island was influenced by the then Vaishnavait movement of Assam with the establishment of a satra at Dhuwahat by the saint Shankardeva. The art of Mask making has been an exquisite culture of Majuli satras. Masks are designed to bring out the character being enacted in bhaonas and raas utsavs at Majuli. Masks accentuate different features of the characters which is otherwise difficult to portray.
The mask making process is an elaborate process and requires time. It can take as long as two weeks. Since the entire shape of the mask is dependent on the cow-dung mixture, main concern of the mask makers are involved with the amount of sunlight and warmth available in a day. The entire mask is made on a woven frame of bamboo. As pointed out by the craftsmen, this is the most important step that one should concentrate on while making the mask. It is recommended that one tweaks the bamboo frame in areas which needs volume, e.g. areas near the cheeks, nose or the forehead of the, depending on the facial features of the character.
Mukha silpa of Majuli is a traditional art now known at national as well international level. The mask made by Dr Hemchandra Goswmi, Samaguri satra is now being displayed at British museum. Dr Goswami has modified the masks so as to be more interactive to the audience. He redesigned the rigid form of masks into one where jaws can be moved while delivering speech in drama. He has trained different craftsman at Majuli to make masks of different sizes for commercial purposes. At present two types of masks are prepared at Samaguri Satra, one is masks for religious performances and another for commercial purposes. Prices of these decorative masks ranges from ₹500 to several thousands. The prices vary depending on the embellishments and characters. Hence, the mask making culture in the river island may be brought up to a new potential area of livelihood of the craftsman. Mukhas are now both made for religious and commercial purposes. Now, Along with bhakats (traditional priests), craftsmen are also engaged with mask making.