Purulia Chau dance is practised by the indigenous community living in Baghmundi, Arsha, Jhalda-I & II, Balarampur, Bandwan, Barabazar areas in Purulia district of West Bengal. Chau mask makers live in Charida village which is also located in Purulia.

Chau dance is popular among the indigenous people of Chotonagpur Plateau region. Apart from Purulia Chau, there are two other variants – Seraikella Chau and Mayurbhanj Chau which are practised in Jharkhand and in Odisha respectively.

Chau is connected to the ritual and religious celebrations of the people in these regions. Chau is most intimately associated with the Chait Parab that is celebrated in the festive spaces of local Shiva temples in Purulia around April/May every year. Initially performed by a single dancer with no mask (Ekoira Chau), Purulia Chau was influenced by other local forms of dance found at the popular local festival of Gajan. The stories enacted by Chau dancers are mainly from the epics of Ramayan, Mahabharata, Puranic texts and others. The dancers wear ornate costumes and masks elaborately crafted mask that portrays the character of the dancer.

The masks are made by a community of rural artists living in Charida village. Generally crafts persons make masks of deities, epic and also of tribal characters. The masks are of different sizes starting from small to large ones. The tradition of making Chau masks started in Charida around 150 years back during the rule of King Madan Mohan Singh Deo of Baghmundi.

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