The etymological root of the word 'Chhau'
is traced to the Sanskrit 'Chhaya' or shade,
referring to the mask used by the dancers.
Others aver it is derived from the word 'Chhauni'
where the pharikhanda (shield and sword) soldiers stayed. The technique of the
dance, in fact, draws on steps and gait, which have stemmed from the 'Pharikhanda
It is basically a martial dance where the mask holds
the dominant Rasa while the body creates,
projects, and develops
the moods. Chhau has three schools as such, coming from Seraikella
in Bihar, Mayurbhanj in Orissa
and Purulia in West Bengal. While men dance
all the three Chhau forms, Mayurbhanj uses no masks but the others do.