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Providing specific powers to compatible wearers
Kanohi are masks that grant powers to their wearers. The word "Kanohi" translates to mask. Kanohi are magnetically attached to their wearers. The Matoran have always had need of Kanohi; the first masks were created by the Great Beings for the Matoran; afterwards, Mata-Nui taught them to make masks on their own. On Metru Nui, masks were made from Kanoka. On other islands they were simply made of Protodermis, however, only powerless masks could be created in this fashion
Matoran usually begin their lives with a mask - as Matoran are made by a machine, it is likely the machine makes Powerless Kanohi for the Matoran, or that their Kanohi are pre-made by others. However, if they collect other Kanohi, these can be stored at a Suva. When a Kanohi is stored at a Suva, the Suva's owner can access the Kanohi from almost anywhere.
Kanohi of certain levels contain a power that the wearer can access, which is done through focus and concentration. If these powered Kanohi are cracked or broken, they do not function properly or at all. The color of Great and Noble masks are decided by their wearers. When Kanohi are made originally, they acquire a silvery-gray color, and stays that way until someone puts it on. Once put on, the respective color that pertains to the wearer fills the mask. Matoran masks, having no power, will not change color at all, making it necessary to color the mask with a special type of paint. There are some special cases for very rare and important masks that have specific colors given to them already. It is not known precisely why only these masks have color from creation.
When a mask-wearer has their Kanohi removed they suffer weakness - Toa and other beings feel weak and dizzy, Turaga suffer extreme weakness, and Matoran lapse into a coma-like state if the mask is not replaced within an extended period of time. Kanohi have a tendency to keep an "imprint" of their owner within themselves for a short time after being removed, so any mask can be infused with great amounts of a life-force to resurrect a mask-wearer. However, after a good while, the imprint will fade away.
Normally, Kanohi masks are made from Kanoka disks. The Kanoka would be melted down and reforged or carved into the desired shape. Masks on Metru Nui would be painted with a coloring additive on the top of the mask after being made to differentiate power level, Silver for powerless, black for noble, and none for great masks. Powerless Kanohi, unable to change color to match their wearer, were fully painted beforehand, with the secondary additive applied later.
Both the combined powers of the Kanoka and their power levels determined the fate of the mask being forged. Typically, common masks worn by most Toa, Turaga, and Matoran had to fulfill three criteria: They could be made from disks of any power level, three or less disks were required, and the power of the forged Kanohi should be applicable enough for most any situation. The first benchmark rarely comes into play for Noble and Great masks as they require level 7 and 8 disks respectively anyways.
What separated an average mask-maker from a skilled one, such as Vakama, was their ability to memorize and successfully create the more uncommon masks. These Kanohi often required upwards of four disks thereby making the forging procedure that much more complex. The Kanoka power levels, too, usually had to be relatively high, making the whole process expensive; This adds more pressure on the mask maker to not blunder. Often, when making a difficult powerless mask, power levels of 5 or 6 were required or the Kanohi simply would not hold itself together.
Contrary to popular belief, Kanohi are not damaged in the process that gives them their shape, rather, impurities and imperfections arise during the Kanoka merging process. After all, any blacksmith can work with metal. The disks have to be evenly combined or both that mask's form and power would be warped which explains why the more disks are used, the harder it is the make a usable Kanohi.
Finally, certain attachments can be added to Kanohi after the mask is made, such as a telescopic eyepiece commonly added to the Akaku or a breathing apparatus as was the case for the Toa Mahri. These additions can also later be removed without damaging the mask.
Classical and Contemporary Mask Making
Classical mask making revolved around fulfilling the spiritual needs of Matoran at that time, as many wanted to manifest their ideologies and virtues they held up in high regard into a physical object. As such, certain mask powers were developed to reflect, for example, the calm nature of Ga-Matoran, or the down-to-earth composure of an Onu-Matoran.
Classical mask making's main tenet was that when making a mask, the craftsman is not allowed to use two disks of the same power type. The reasoning behind this was to provide a small degree of distinctiveness between Kanohi as each Matoran tribe wanted a unique mask they could affiliate with. There are eight powers in total and as such, the theoretical maximum of classical Kanohi is 256. All elements, save for Light and Shadow, could also be contained in a mask as a power. As such, 14 is added to the total as was the Legendary Disk of Time, as that was also made with Kanoka. This brings the total number of classical Kanohi to 271. However, no mask maker was ever able to use upwards of six Kanoka at once though it is said Artahka has experimented with seven and eight disks but to no avail.
Contemporary mask making was developed around 4,000 years before the Reformation at the same time the Kanoka disks were re-invented in Ko-Metru. Ko-Matoran scholars saw that Toa were becoming more and more embroiled in battles and some of the more widespread Kanohi, such as the Miru and Kaukau, were not particularly effective in battle, despite their storied histories and connotations. Based on Ko-Metru research, Turaga Dume ordered mask makers in Ta-Metru to experiment with more complex Kanohi recipes, and to attempt using multiples of the same Kanoka type power.
Theoretically, a Kanohi can be imbued with any one of the sixteen existing elemental powers. It is very rare for a mask-maker to use a Toa Disk to forge a mask, mainly because these disks were one-of-a-kind, very hard to obtain, and it was even harder to convince the owner of the Toa Disk to part ways with it. Elemental masks are, as such, highly valued due to their scarcity and power.
That being said, these so-called "Elemental Kanohi" are in fact the some of the easiest of masks to make simply due to the fact only one mask is required to create them. The only caveat in the process of making an Elemental Kanohi are their often elegant and complex physical designs.
Masks Without Kanoka
There are other ways to make Kanohi, as Kanohi were around before mask makers were. It is possible to make masks out of purified Protodermis and skip the Disk stage.
These are the steps for a variant of basic Mask Making without the use of Kanoka:
- Take some Protodermis
- Pour the Protodermis into a mold the shape of a chosen mask
- Choose a certain tube of a mask power
- Load the tube into a special mechanism
- Fire a ray of the chosen mask power at the mold to give the mask its power
- Let dry
- Remove mask from mold
The mask can have a different power than its shape (ex: Hau shape with the power of a Calix), but this is not normally done, as to avoid confusion. This method of mask making was rarely used outside of Metru Nui and perhaps Artahka, mostly due to the lack of the necessary specialized equipment.
Known Kanohi Formulae
- Uncommon: *
- Unique Mask: **
- Immoral Mask: †
- Legendary Mask: ‡
|Kaukau||Water Breathing||Shrink, Regeneration, Remove Poison|
|Kakama||Speed||Teleport, Reconstitute at Random|
|Pakari||Strength||Regeneration, Enlarge, Remove Poison|
|Akaku||X-Ray Vision||Regeneration, Teleport|
|Huna||Concealment||Shrink, Enlarge, Freeze|
|Rau||Translation||Remove Poison, Enlarge|
|Mahiki||Illusion||Reconstitute at Random, Weaken|
|Komau||Mind Control||Freeze, Weaken, Remove Poison|
|Ruru||Night Vision||Enlarge, Teleport|
|Mask of Growth||Growth||Growth|
|Mask of Mutation||Mutation||Reconstitute at Random, Unknown|
|Arthron||Sonar||Poison Removal, Teleport, Reconstitute at Random|
|Faxon||Kindred||Reconstitute at Random, Enlarge|
|Garai *||Gravity||Toa Disk of Gravity|
|Zatth||Summoning||Regeneration, Shrink, Reconstitute at Random|
|Calix||Fate||Teleport, Reconstitute at Random, Weaken|
|Elda *||Detection||Regeneration, Teleport, Removes Poison|
|Kadin||Flight||Teleport, Reconstitute at Random, Shrink|
|Rode||Truth||Regeneration, Weaken, Enlarge|
|Felnas†||Disruption||Reconstitute at Random, Freeze|
|Mask of Emulation||Emulation||Reconstitute at Random, Removes Poison, Weaken|
|Mask of Psychometry||Psychometry||Unknown|
|Mask of Rahi Control||Rahi Control||Unknown|
|Mask of Fusion||Fusion||Unknown|
|Vahi ‡||Time||Disk of Time (forged from the six Great Disks)|
Additionally, there are Kanohi of every elemental power, emotional power, Rahkshi power, Bohrok power, and, so it is believed, every Rahi power. It has been theorized by certain Ko-Matoran scholars that it is possible to replicate any non-legendary power in the form of a general Kanohi; however, because there is no limit on the imagination, Kanohi innovation has yet to catch up.
There are known forms for a Kanohi:
- The most common kind is the powerless masks worn by Matoran, and are made from level 1-6 Kanoka. The process used to make the mask causes the energy to leak out, which is why these masks have no powers. However, they are needed for Matoran to live and function properly. Matoran can customize their masks, doing such things as adding a scope. Matoran or Noble masks can become Great Masks when they come in contact with Toa Energy. This happens whenever a Toa is created from a Matoran.
- Turaga wear Noble masks made from level 7 Kanoka, and have access to the mask's power. Although Matoran can feel the power in a Great or Noble Mask, they lack the mental discipline needed to access its powers.
- Toa and other beings wear Great Masks, which offer a stronger mask power, and are made from level 8 Kanoka disks.
- Kanohi Nuva are a special type of Great Masks that are created when a Kanohi comes into contact with Energized Protodermis. They have greatly enhanced powers.
- Fused or mutated Kanohi also exist. Sometimes, bearers of a Kanohi undergo changes and their masks fuse to their faces. In some cases, the wearer loses access to the mask powers.
- Miscellaneous Kanohi, include any masks that do not fit under any other category. These include Golden Kanohi, Copper Victory masks, Infected Kanohi, and many others.
There is also a powerful group of extraordinary Kanohi, known as Legendary Masks, that possess powers far beyond a normal mask. Only 16 are known so far, but often no more than three to six exist at one time in a single given universe:
- The Kanohi Ignika, the Legendary Mask of Life
- The Kanohi Vahi, the Legendary Mask of Time
- The Kanohi Mask of Space
- The Kanohi Gebuk, the Legendary Mask of Desire
- The Kanohi Ekimu, the Legendary Mask of Creation
- The Kanohi Vaskata, the Legendary Mask of Matter
- The unnamed Mask of Reality
- The Kanohi Zutekhae, the Legendary Mask of Victory
- The Kanohi Gnihton, the Legendary Mask of Nothing
- The Kanohi Ruva, the Mask of Destiny
Additionally, accounts of several different masks of "Universe," "Matter," "Death," and others have emerged, all said to be of legendary power. It is unknown whether each of these have any connection to each other or if they are, in fact, real.
Known Kanohi Formulae
Cursed Kanohi are any Kanohi which have been infected with a Makuta's shadow energy. It causes a "Shadow Plague" to spread on Matoran around the wearer, turning them into Shadow Matoran. The plague is spread into several stages;
- Stage 1: The surrounding Matoran develop a hatred of the wearer of the cursed Matoran and shun them. Few progress past this stage.
- Stage 2: The surrounding Matoran begin performing evil acts.
- Stage 3: The surrounding Matoran become Shadow Matoran physically.
- Stage 4: The surrounding Matoran completely transform into Shadow Matoran.
Cursed Kanohi can be any Kanohi - even legendary ones - as long as they are worn by a member of the Matoran species. The only known Cursed Kanohi is a Noble Kakama, worn by Avramus as an Av-Matoran. The effects of this kind of Kanohi are so devastating that the wearer's personality begins to change into a self-hating and depressed one. The only Makuta known to have been able to place a Makuta Curse was killed shortly after doing so, though whether or not this was because of the curse's placement.