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A mask is a piece of material or kit worn on the face. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes.

The word mask came via French masque and either Italian maschera or Spanish máscara. Possible ancestors are Latin (not classical) mascus, masca = "ghost", and Arabic maskharah = "jester", "man in masquerade".

The 5000-year-old Mask of Warka is believed to be the oldest surviving mask.<ref name="Warka">"Ancient mask recovered in Iraq", CNN, September 23, 2003. Retrieved on 2006-09-10. (in English)</ref>


[edit] Ceremonial uses

Masks in a Guatemalan Market.
Image:Masks iran ancient.jpg
Golden masks. Excavated in Kalmakareh, Luristan, Iran. First half of first Millennium BC. National Museum of Iran.
  • In ritual, social and religious functions, where participants wear them to represent spiritual or legendary figures. In some cultures it is also believed that the wearing of a mask will allow the wearer to take on the attributes of that mask's representation; i.e., a leopard-mask will induce the wearer to become leopard-like.
  • Masks were widely used in ancient Sri Lanka for devil dance rituals, Although some of the masks are quite large and complex in their structure, most of those traditionally used in the various natima (dance) ceremonies are considered three quarter masks. Strapped to the face, they extend from the middle of the forehead to just below the mouth. This type of lightweight construction makes it easier for the dancer to wear during the often spastic and exaggerated movements executed during a performance which could last up to twelve hours.
  • In Mexico and Central America, most towns have both a Christian name and an indigenous name, for example, Santiago Tianguistenco, or Santa Maria Axixitla. All Christian saints have a specific day in the year dedicated to them, and each town typically has a festival on that day, involving a combination of Christian and indigenous tradition. These festivals frequently include parades and street theatre that act out a story. The masks and costumes from these festivals have become collectors items. A mask used in such a festival is known as having been "danzada" or "danced." These hand-made, painted masks are typically made from wood and may use rope, animal horns or teeth, or rubber from tire inner tubes.
  • In Africa, specifically West Africa, masks play an important role in traditional ceremonies and theatrical dances. All African masks fall into one of four categories: the ancestor spirit, the mythological hero, the combination of ancestor and hero, and the animal spirit.

[edit] To prevent recognition

[edit] Protective

Image:Softball Catcher.jpg
A softball catcher wearing a mask for protection.

Protective masks have these functions:

  • Providing a supply of breathable air or other oxygen-containing gas.
  • Protecting the face against flying objects or dangerous environments, while allowing vision.

Many masks have both functions.
This category merges into the categories of goggles and protective helmets and visors.
Here are included:

Of masks that supply breathable air, some also cover the eyes (full-face); and some only cover the mouth and nose, and the wearer must also wear goggles.

[edit] Punitive

  • A "shameful" mask (Schandmaske in German) is devised for public humiliation; a popular reduced form are donkey ears for a bad ('dumb') pupil or student
  • Particularly uncomfortable types, such as an iron mask, are fit as devices for torture or corporal punishment
  • Masks were used to alienate and silence prisoners in Australian gaols in the late 19th century. They were made of white cloth and covered the face, leaving only the eyes visible.

[edit] Other types

  • A "life mask" is a plaster cast of a face, used as a model for making a painting or sculpture.
  • A "death mask" is the same but taken from the face of a recently dead person. Death masks were very popular in the Western World during the 18th and 19th century. Both life and death masks can preserve an accurate 3D representation of a face.
  • A facial (short for facial mask) is a temporary mask, not solid, used in cosmetics or therapy for skin treatment.
  • Wrestling masks are used most widely in Mexican and Japanese wrestling. A wrestler's mask is usually related to a wrestler's persona (for example, a wrestler known as 'The Panda' might wear a mask with a panda's facial markings). Often, wrestlers will put their masks on the line against other wrestlers' masks, titles or an opponent's hair. While in Mexico and Japan, masks are a sign of tradition, they are generally considered by many in the United States to be a deathblow to a wrestler's character. Very few masked wrestlers have succeeded in becoming popular and generally are considered as jobbers. The belief is that fans want to see a face to empathize with and will only get behind a wrestler that shows it.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Smith, Susan Valeria Harris, "Masks in Modern Drama", Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

de:Maske es:Máscara eo:Masko fr:Masque gl:Careta io:Maskilo he:מסכה nl:Masker ja:マスク ug:نىقاب pt:Máscara simple:Mask sk:Maska fi:Naamari sv:Mask ta:முகமூடி tr:Maske uk:Маска


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