The fame of Mayurbhanj Chhau has crossed geographical limitations and has claimed world wide fans for its beauty, vigour and marvel of the art. Though Chhau is famous not only in India but World over the origin of word Chhau is yet in mystery. Chhau is believed to have found its origin from "Chhaya" the shadow. But the Chhau performers of Purulia use Mask while dancing and that mask is told as "Chhau". Perhaps Chhau Dance might have derived its name from that mask,the Chhau. Some chhau pundits opine the Chhau has got its name from "Chhaushree". Inarguably, the word chhau has been derived from the word 'CHHAUNI' the camp camped at the time of military operation. The folks say that chhau was performed to entertain the Oriya warriors inside the camp and has spread now knowing no boundaries.
Chhau is glorious heritage of Mayurbhanj. The enlightened kings of Mayurbhanj like Maharaja Shriram Chandra Bhanjdeo and Pratap Chandra Bhanjdeo, one of the builders of modern Orissa composed the famous "War-Dance" and presented the same in 1912 at Calcutta in honour of George V, the British emperor, who got dazed at the beauty and splendour of Mayurbhanj Chhau and appreaciations were showered from the press and the elites. Elements of folk, tribal, martial, traditional, classical art have been woven in to the grand mosaic of Mayurbhanj chhau. Thematically, Chhau draws substantially from great epics like the Ramayan, the Mahabharat and also from folk and tribal elements. The music accompanying the dance has its own style which envigorates the soul. The Orchestra is generally composed of "Mohuri", "Chad-Chadi", "Dhol", "Dhumsa" etc. and some times accompanied by lilting vocal music. The grammar of Mayurbhanj Chhau comprises six Chalis or Topka (basic steps) and 36 uflis (Jumping locomotions). These Chalis & uflis are are called from rural house hold activities, behaviour of animals, and birds and war actions.