Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Mask

Mask

Overview

A mask is an article normally worn on the face
Face
The face is a central sense organ complex, for those animals that have one, normally on the ventral surface of the head, and can, depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, temple, teeth, skin, and...

, typically for protection, disguise
Disguise
A disguise can be anything which conceals or changes a person's physical appearance, including a wig, glasses, makeup, costume or other ways. Camouflage is one type of disguise for people, animals and objects...

, performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 or entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 and practical
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

 purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer's body, so in parts of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 giant totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

 masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing.

The word "mask" appeared in English in the 1530s, from Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

 masque "covering to hide or guard the face", derived in turn from Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 maschera, from Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 masca "mask, specter, nightmare".
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Mask'
Start a new discussion about 'Mask'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia

A mask is an article normally worn on the face
Face
The face is a central sense organ complex, for those animals that have one, normally on the ventral surface of the head, and can, depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, temple, teeth, skin, and...

, typically for protection, disguise
Disguise
A disguise can be anything which conceals or changes a person's physical appearance, including a wig, glasses, makeup, costume or other ways. Camouflage is one type of disguise for people, animals and objects...

, performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 or entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 and practical
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

 purposes. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer's body, so in parts of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 giant totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

 masks cover the body, whilst Inuit women use finger masks during storytelling and dancing.

Etymology


The word "mask" appeared in English in the 1530s, from Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

 masque "covering to hide or guard the face", derived in turn from Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 maschera, from Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but also as a language of science, literature, law, and administration. Despite the clerical origin of many of its authors,...

 masca "mask, specter, nightmare". This word is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 maskharah مَسْخَرَۃٌ "buffoon", from the verb sakhira "to ridicule". However, it may also come from Provençal
Provençal
Provençal may refer to:*Provençal, meaning "of Provence", a region of France*Provençal dialect, a dialect of the Occitan language, spoken in the south-east of France*Provençal, meaning the whole Occitan language...

 mascarar "to black (the face)" (or the related Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 mascarar, Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 mascurer). This in turn in of uncertain origin — perhaps from a Germanic source akin to English "mesh", but perhaps from mask- "black", a borrowing from a pre-Indo-European
Pre-Indo-European
Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceives as a relatively homogeneous and widespread pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in Europe, particularly in Malta and the Balkans....

 language. One German author claims the word "mask" is originally derived from the Spanish más que la cara (literally, "more than the face" or "added face"), which evolved to "máscara", while the Arabic "maskharat" - referring to the buffoonery which is possible only by disguising the face - would be based on these Spanish roots.

Masks in performance



Throughout the world masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance - both ritually and in various theatre traditions. The ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 and theatrical
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 definitions of mask usage frequently overlap and merge but still provide a useful basis for categorisation. The image of juxtaposed Comedy and Tragedy masks are widely used to represent the Performing Arts, and specifically Drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

.

In ancient Rome the word persona
Persona
A persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek πρόσωπον...

meant 'a mask'; it also referred to an individual who had full Roman citizenship
Roman citizenship
Citizenship in ancient Rome was a privileged political and legal status afforded to certain free-born individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance....

. A citizen could demonstrate his or her lineage through imagines, death masks of the ancestors. These were wax casts kept in a lararium, the family shrine. Rites of passage, such as initiation of young members of the family, or funerals, were carried out at the shrine under the watch of the ancestral masks. At funerals professional actors would wear these masks to perform deeds of the lives of the ancestors, thus linking the role of mask as a ritual object and in theatre.

Masks are a familiar and vivid element in many folk
Folk
The English word Folk is derived from a Germanic noun, *fulka meaning "people" or "army"...

 and traditional pageants
Procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...

, ceremonies, rituals and festivals, and are often of an ancient origin. The mask is normally a part of a costume that adorns the whole body and embodies a tradition important to the religious and/or social life of the community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

 as whole or a particular group within the community. Masks are used almost universally and maintain their power and mystery both for their wearers and their audience.The continued popularity of wearing masks at carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

, and for children at parties and for festivals such as Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 are good examples. Nowadays these are usually mass-produced plastic masks, often associated with popular films, TV programmes or cartoon
Cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

 characters - they are, however, reminders of the enduring power of pretence and play and the power and appeal of masks.

Ritual masks


Ritual masks occur throughout the world, and although they tend to share many characteristics, highly distinctive forms have developed. The function of the masks may be magical or religious; they may appear in rites of passage or as a make-up for a form of theatre. Equally masks may disguise a penitent or preside over important ceremonies; they may help mediate with spirits, or offer a protective role to the society who utilise their powers.

Africa


There are a wide variety of masks used in Africa. In West Africa, masks are used in masquerades that form part of religious ceremonies enacted to communicate with spirits and ancestors. Examples are the masquerades of the Yoruba
Yoruba people
The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

, Igbo
Igbo people
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo, Ebo, Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism...

 and Edo
Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

 cultures, including Egungun Masquerades
Egungun
Egungun is a part of the Yoruba pantheon of divinities. In the indeginous religious system of the West African tribe of that name, the spirit is of central importance...

 and Northern Edo Masquerades
Northern Edo Masquerades
- History :Masking traditions are a major part of the Edo groups of Nigeria, who trace their beginnings to the kingdom of Benin, their neighbors to the south. The politics and social structures of the Edo groups tend to be more similar to their neighbors, which consist of the Idoma and Igala. Basic...

. The masks are usually carved with an extraordinary skill and variety by artists who will usually have received their training as an apprentice to a master carver - frequently it is a tradition that has been passed down within a family through many generations. Such an artist holds a respected position in tribal society because of the work that he or she creates, embodying not only complex craft techniques but also spiritual/social and symbolic knowledge. African masks are also used in the Mas or Masquerade of the Caribbean Carnival
Caribbean Carnival
Caribbean Carnival is the term used for a number of events that take place in many of the Caribbean islands annually.The Caribbean's Carnivals all have several common themes all originating from Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, based on folklore, culture, religion,and tradition, not on amusement...

.

Djolé
Djolé
Djolé is a mask-dance from Temine people in Sierra Leone. It is played traditionally with a large square drum called sikko.Although a mask depicts a female, it is carried by a male....

 (also known as Jolé or Yolé) is a mask-dance from Temine people in Sierra Leone. Males wear the mask, although it does depict a female.

Many African masks represent animals. Some African tribes believe that the animal masks can help them communicate with the spirits who live in forests or open savannas. People of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

 known as the Bwa
Bwa
The Bwa or Bwaba , or Bobo-Wule , are an ethnic group indigenous to central Burkina Faso and Mali. Their population is approximately 300,000. They are known for their use of masks, made from leaves or wood, used in performative rituals.-History:In the 18th century, Bwa lands were occupied by the...

 and Nuna
Nuna
Nuna is the name of a series of manned solar powered vehicles that won the World solar challenge in Australia four times in a row, in 2001 , 2003 , 2005 and 2007...

 call to the spirit to stop destruction. The Dogon
Dogon people
The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000 The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and...

 of Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 have complex religions that also have animal masks. Their three main cults use seventy-eight different types of masks. Most of the ceremonies of the Dogon culture are secret, although the antelope dance is shown to non-Dogons. The antelope masks are rough rectangular boxes with several horns coming out of the top. The Dogons are expert agriculturists and the antelope symbolizes a hard working farmer.

Another culture that has a very rich agricultural tradition is the Bamana people of Mali. The antelope (called Chiwara
Chiwara
A Chiwara is a ritual object representing an antelope, used by the Bambara ethnic group in Mali...

) is believed to have taught man the secrets of agriculture. Although the Dogons and Bamana people both believe the antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

 symbolises agriculture, they interpret elements the masks differently. To the Bamana people, swords represent the sprouting of grain.

Masks may also indicate a culture's ideal of feminine beauty. The masks of Punu of Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

 have highly arched eyebrows, almost almond-shaped eyes and a narrow chin. The raised strip running from both sides of the nose to the ears represent jewellery. Dark black hairstyle, tops the mask off. The whiteness of the face represent the whiteness and beauty of the spirit world. Only men wear the masks and perform the dances with high stilts despite the masks representing women. One of the most beautiful representations of female beauty is the Idia
Idia
Queen Idia was the mother of Esigie, the Oba of Benin who ruled from 1504 to 1550. She played a very significant role in the rise and reign of her son. She was a strong warrior who fought relentlessly before and during her son's reign as the Oba of the Edo people. When Oba Ozolua died, he left...

's Mask of enin] in present day Edo State of Nigeria]. It is believed to have been commissioned by a king of Benin in memory of his mother. To honor his dead mother, the king wore the mask on his hip during special ceremonies.

The Senoufo people of the Ivory Coast represent tranquility by making masks with eyes half-shut and lines drawn near the mouth. The Temne
Temne
Temne can refer to:* A West Atlantic language, the Temne language is one of the most widely spoken indigenous languages of Sierra Leone, West Africa...

 of Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 use masks with small eyes and mouths to represent humility and humbleness. They represent wisdom by making bulging forehead. Other masks that have exaggerated long faces and broad foreheads symbolize the soberness of one's duty that comes with power. War masks are also popular. The Grebo of the Ivory Coast and Liberia carve masks with round eyes to represent alertness and anger, with the straight nose to represent unwillingness to retreat.

Today, the qualities of African art
African art
African art constitutes one of the most diverse legacies on earth. Though many casual observers tend to generalize "traditional" African art, the continent is full of people, societies, and civilizations, each with a unique visual special culture. The definition also includes the art of the African...

 are beginning to be more understood and appreciated. However most African masks are now being produced for the tourist trade. Although they often show skilled craftsmanship, they nearly always lack the spiritual character of the traditional tribal masks.

Oceania


The variety and beauty of the masks of Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

 are almost as highly developed as in Africa. It is a culture where ancestor worship is dominant and religious ceremonies are devoted to ancestors. Inevitably many of the mask types relate to use in these ceremonies and are linked with the activities of secret societies. The mask is regarded as an instrument of revelation, giving form to the sacred. This is often accomplished by linking the mask to an ancestral presence, and thus bringing the past into the present.

As a culture of scattered islands and peninsulars Melanesian mask forms have developed in a highly diversified fashion, with a great deal of variety in their construction and aesthetic. In Papua New Guinea six metre-high totem masks are placed to protect the living from spirits; whereas the duk-duk
Duk-Duk
Duk-Duk is a secret society, part of the traditional culture of the Tolai people of the Rabaul area of New Britain, the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea, in the South Pacific.-Description:...

and tubuan masks of New Guinea are used to enforce social codes by intimidation. They are conical masks, made from cane and leaves.

North America



Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 Coastal groups have tended towards rudimentary religious practice but a highly evolved and rich mythology, especially concerning hunting. In some areas annual shamanic ceremonies involved masked dances and these strongly abstracted masks are arguably the most striking artifacts produced in this region.

Inuit groups vary widely and do not share a common mythology or language. Not surprisingly their mask traditions are also often different, although their masks are often made out of driftwood, animal skins, bones and feathers.
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 Coastal indigenous groups were generally highly skilled woodworkers. Their masks were often master-pieces of carving, sometimes with movable jaws, or a mask within a mask, and parts moved by pulling cords. The carving of masks were an important feature of wood craft, along with many other features that often combined the utilitarian with the symbolic, such as shield
Shield
A shield is a type of personal armor, meant to intercept attacks, either by stopping projectiles such as arrows or redirecting a hit from a sword, mace or battle axe to the side of the shield-bearer....

s, canoes, poles and houses.

Woodland tribes, especially in the North-East and around the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

, cross-fertilized culturally with one another. The Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 made spectacular wooden ‘false face
False Face Society
The False Face Society is probably the best known of the medicinal societies among the Iroquois, especially for its dramatic wooden masks. The masks are used in healing rituals which invoke the spirit of an old hunch-backed man. Those cured by the society become members...

’ masks, used in healing ceremonies and carved from living trees. These masks appear in a great variety of shapes, depending on their precise function.

Pueblo
Pueblo
Pueblo is a term used to describe modern communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material...

 craftsmen produced impressive work for masked religious ritual, especially the Hopi
Hopi
The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language...

 and Zuni. The kachina
Kachina
A kachina is a spirit being in western Pueblo cosmology and religious practices. The western Pueblo, Native American cultures located in the southwestern United States, include Hopi, Zuni, Tewa Village , Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna Pueblo. The kachina cult has spread to more eastern Pueblos, e.g....

s
, god/spirits, frequently take the form of highly distinctive and elaborate masks that are used in ritual dances. These are usually made of leather with appendages of fur, feathers or leaves. Some cover the face, some the whole head and are often highly abstracted forms. Navajo
Navajo people
The Navajo of the Southwestern United States are the largest single federally recognized tribe of the United States of America. The Navajo Nation has 300,048 enrolled tribal members. The Navajo Nation constitutes an independent governmental body which manages the Navajo Indian reservation in the...

 masks appear to be inspired by the Pueblo prototypes.

In more recent times, masking is a common feature of Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
The terms "Mardi Gras" , "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season", in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday...

 traditions, most notably in New Orleans
New Orleans Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a Carnival celebration well-known throughout the world.The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany . It is a season of parades, balls , and king cake parties...

. Costumes and masks (originally inspired by masquerade ball
Masquerade ball
A masquerade ball is an event which the participants attend in costume wearing a mask. - History :...

s) are frequently worn by krewe
Krewe
A krewe is an organization that puts on a parade and or a ball for the Carnival season. The term is best known for its association with New Orleans Mardi Gras, but is also used in other Carnival celebrations around the Gulf of Mexico, such as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa, Florida, and...

 members on Mardi Gras Day. Laws against concealing one's identity with a mask are suspended for the day.

Latin America



Distinctive styles of masks began to emerge in pre-Hispanic America about 1200BC, although there is evidence of far older mask forms. In the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 masks were used to dress the faces of the dead. These were originally made of fabric but later burial masks were sometimes made of beaten copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 or gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, and occasionally of clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

.

For the Aztecs human skulls were prized as war trophies
Trophy
A trophy is a reward for a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit. Trophies are most often awarded for sporting events, from youth sports to professional level athletics...

 and skull masks were not uncommon. Masks were also used as part of court entertainments, possibly combining political with religious significance.

In post-colonial Latin America pre-Columbian
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

 traditions merged with Christian rituals, and syncretic masquerades and ceremonies, such as All Souls/Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality...

 developed, despite efforts of the Church to stamp out the indigenous traditions. Masks remain an important feature of popular carnivals and religious dances, such as The Dance of the Moors and Christians
Moros y cristianos
Moros y Cristianos or Moros i Cristians literally in English Moors and Christians, is a set of festival activities which are celebrated in many towns and cities of Spain, mainly in the southern Valencian Community; according to popular tradition the festivals commemorate the battles, combats and...

. Mexico, in particular, retains a great deal of creativity in the production of masks, encouraged by collectors. Wrestling
Lucha libre
Lucha libre is a term used in Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries, for a form of professional wrestling that has developed within those countries...

 matches, where it is common for the participants to wear masks, are very popular and many of the wrestlers can be considered folk heroes. For instance, the popular wrestler El Santo continued wearing his mask after retirement, revealed his face briefly only in old age, and was buried wearing his silver mask.

India/Sri Lanka/Indo-China


Masked characters, usually divinities, are a central feature of Indian dramatic forms, many based on depicting the epics Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 and Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

. Countries that have had strong Indian cultural influences – Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Burma, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 – have developed the Indian forms, combined with local myths, and developed their own characteristic styles.

The masks are usually highly exaggerated and formalised, and share an aesthetic with the carved images of monstrous heads that dominate the facades of Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and Buddhist temples. These faces or Kirtimukhas, 'Visages of Glory', are intended to ward off evil and are associated with the animal world as well as the divine. During ceremonies these visages are given active form in the great mask dramas of the South and South-eastern Asian region.

Indonesia


In Indonesia the mask dance predates Hindu-Buddhist influences. It is believed that the use of masks is related to the cult of the ancestors, which considered dancers the interpreters of the gods. Native Indonesian tribes such as Dayak
Dayak people
The Dayak or Dyak are the native people of Borneo. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior of Borneo, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguishing traits are readily...

 have masked Hudoq dance that represents nature spirits. In Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 masked dance is commonly called topeng
Topeng
Topeng is a dramatic form of Indonesian dance in which one or more mask-wearing, ornately-costumed performers interpret traditional narratives concerning fabled kings, heroes and myths, accompanied by gamelan music...

and demonstrated Hindu influences as it often feature epics such as Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 and Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

. The native story of Panji
Panji (prince)
Panji was a legendary prince in East Java, Indonesia. His life has formed the basis of a cycle of Javanese stories. Along with the Ramayana and Mahabharata, this cycle is the basis of various poems and a genre of wayang known as wayang gedog -- "gedog" meaning "mask"...

 also popular in topeng masked dance. Indonesian topeng dance styles are widely distributed, such as topeng Bali, Cirebon, Betawi, Malang, Yogyakarta and Solo.

China



In China masks are thought to have originated in ancient religious ceremonies. Images of people wearing masks have been found in rock paintings along the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

. Later mask forms brings together myths and symbols from Shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

.

Shigong dance masks were used in shamanic rituals to thank the gods, while nuo
Nuo opera
Nou redirects here. For the Swiss singer, see Patrick Nuo.Nuo opera or nuo drama , deemed the "living fossil of opera," is one of the most popular folk operas in southwest China and has a long history...

dance masks protected from bad spirits. Wedding masks were used to pray for good luck and a lasting marriage, and "Swallowing Animal" masks were associated with protecting the home and symbolised the "swallowing" of disaster. Opera masks were used in a basic 'Common' form of opera performed without a stage or backdrops. These led to colourful facial patterns that we see in today's Jingju (Beijing Opera).

Korea


Korean masks have a long tradition associated with shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

 and later in ritual dance.

Japan



Japanese masks are part of a very old and highly sophisticated and stylized theatrical tradition. Although the roots are in prehistoric myths and cults they have developed into refined art forms. The oldest masks are the gigaku. The form no longer exists, and was probably a type of dance presentation. The bugaku developed from this – a complex dance-drama that used masks with moveable jaws.

The or noh
Noh
, or - derived from the Sino-Japanese word for "skill" or "talent" - is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. Traditionally, a Noh "performance day" lasts all day and...

 mask evolved from the gigaku and bugaku and are acted entirely by men. The masks are worn throughout very long performances and are consequently very light. The mask is the supreme achievement of Japanese mask-making. masks represent gods, men, women, madmen and devils, and each category has many sub-divisions. Kyōgen
Kyogen
is a form of traditional Japanese comic theater. It developed alongside Noh, was performed along with Noh as an intermission of sorts between Noh acts, on the same Noh stage, and retains close links to Noh in the modern day; therefore, it is sometimes designated Noh-kyōgen...

are short farces with their own masks, and accompany the tragic nō plays. Kabuki
Kabuki
is classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill...

 is the theatre of modern Japan, rooted in the older forms, but in this form masks are replaced by painted faces.

Inuit cultures


Inuit groups vary widely and do not share a common mythology or language. Not surprisingly their mask traditions are also often different, although their masks are often made out of driftwood, animal skins, bones and feathers.

Middle East



Theatre in the Middle East, as elsewhere, was initially of a ritual nature, dramatising man's relationship with nature, the gods, and other human beings. It grew out of sacred rites of myths and legends performed by priests and lay actors at fixed times and often in fixed locations. Folk theatre — mime, mask, puppetry, farce, juggling - had a ritual context in that it was performed at religious or rites of passage such as days of naming, circumcisions, and marriages. Over time some of these contextual ritual enactments became divorced from their religious meaning and they were performed throughout the year. Some 2500 years ago, kings and commoners alike were entertained by dance and mime accompanied by music where the dancers often wore masks, a vestige of an earlier era when such dances were enacted as religious rites. According to George Goyan
George Goyan
George Goyan was a Doctor of Theater Studies and Art History , and a Meritorious Artist Armenian SSR . He was born in Tiflis. In 1944 he took part in a Yerevan Theatre Institute, then taught there until 1949...

, this practice evoked that of Roman funeral rites where masked actor-dancers represented the deceased with motions and gestures mimicking those of the deceased while singing the praise of his life (see Masks in Performance above).

Europe


Masks are used throughout Europe, and are frequently integrated into regional folk celebrations and customs. Old masks are preserved and can be seen in museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

s and other collections, and much research has been undertaken into the historical origins of masks. Most probably represent nature spirits
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

, and as a result many of the associated customs are seasonal. The original significance would have survived only until the introduction of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 which then incorporated many of the customs into its own traditions. In the process their meanings were also changed so, for example, old god
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

s and goddesses were, literally, demonised and were viewed as mere devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

s, subjugated to the Abrahamic God.

Many of the masks and characters used in European festivals belong to the contrasting categories of the 'good', or 'idealised beauty', set against the 'ugly' or 'beastly' and grotesque. This is particularly true of the Germanic and Central European festivals. Another common type is the Fool, sometimes considered to be the synthesis of the two contrasting type of Handsome and Ugly.

The oldest representations of masks are animal masks, such as the cave paintings of Lascaux
Lascaux
Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, in the department of Dordogne. They contain some of the best-known Upper Paleolithic art. These paintings are estimated to be...

 in the Dordogne
Dordogne
Dordogne is a départment in south-west France. The départment is located in the region of Aquitaine, between the Loire valley and the High Pyrénées named after the great river Dordogne that runs through it...

 in southern France. Such masks survive in the alpine regions of Austria and Switzerland, and may be connected with hunting or shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

, and tend to be particularly associated with the New Year and Carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 festivals.

The debate about the meaning of these and other mask forms continues in Europe, where monsters, bears, wild men
Wild man
The wild man is a mythical figure that appears in the artwork and literature of medieval Europe, comparable to the satyr or faun type in classical mythology and to Silvanus, the Roman god of the woodlands.The defining characteristic of the figure is its "wildness"; from the 12th century...

, harlequin
Harlequin
Harlequin or Arlecchino in Italian, Arlequin in French, and Arlequín in Spanish is the most popularly known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell'arte and its descendant, the Harlequinade.-Origins:...

s, hobby horses and other fanciful characters appear in carnivals throughout the continent. It is generally accepted that the masks, noise, colour and clamour are meant to drive away the forces of darkness and winter, and open the way for the spirits of light and the coming of spring.

Another tradition of European masks developed, more self-consciously, from court and civic events, or entertainments managed by guilds and co-fraternities. These grew out of the earlier revels and had become evident by the 15th century in places like Rome, Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 and Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

, where they developed as entertainments to enliven towns and cities. Thus the Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels...

 carnival in St Marks Square in Venice, attended by the Doge
Doge
Doge is a dialectal Italian word that descends from the Latin dux , meaning "leader", especially in a military context. The wife of a Doge is styled a Dogaressa....

 and aristocracy also involved the guilds, including a guild of maskmakers. There is evidence of 'commedia dell'arte' inspired Venetian masks and by the late 16th century the Venetian Carnival began to reach its peak and eventually lasted a whole 'season' from January until Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

. By the 18th century it was already a tourist attraction, Goethe saying that he was ugly enough not to need a mask. The carnival was repressed during the Napoleonic Republic, although in the 1980s its costumes and the masks aping the C 18th heyday were revived. It appears other cities in central Europe were influenced by the Venetian model.

During the Reformation many of these carnival customs began to die out in Protestant regions, although they seem to have survived in Catholic areas despite the opposition of the ecclesiastical authorities. So by the 19th century the carnivals of the relatively wealthy bourgeois town communities, with elaborate masques and costumes, existed side-by-side with the ragged and essentially folkloric customs of the rural areas. Although these civic masquerades and their masks may have retained elements drawn from popular culture, the survival of carnival in the 19th century was often a consequence of a self-conscious 'folklore' movement that accompanied the rise of nationalism in many European countries.
In the beginning of the new century, in 19 August 2004, the Bulgarian
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

 archeologist Georgi Kitov
Georgi Kitov
Georgi Kitov was a Bulgarian archaeologist and thracologist with controversial methods. He specialized in Thracian archaeology.-Finding the Thracian tomb:...

 discovered a 673g golden mask of a Thracian
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 king in the burial mound "Svetitsata" near Shipka, Central Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. It is a very fine piece of workmanship made out of massive 23к gold. Unlike other masks discovered in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 (of which 3 are in Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 and two in Greece), it is now kept in the National Archaeological Museum
National Archaeological Museum (Bulgaria)
The National Archaeological Museum is an archaeological museum in the centre of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It occupies the building of the largest and oldest former Ottoman mosque in the city, Büyük camii , built from stone around 1474 under Mehmed II...

 in Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

. It is considered to be the mask of the Thracian
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 king Teres.

Masks in theatre


Masks play a key part within world theatre traditions, particularly non-western theatre forms. They also continue to be a vital force within contemporary theatre, and their usage takes a variety of forms.

In many cultural traditions the masked performer is a central concept and is highly valued. In the western tradition it is sometimes considered a stylistic device which can be traced back to the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. In some Greek masks the wide and open mouth of the mask contained a brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 megaphone enabling the voice of the wearer to be projected into the large auditoria. In medieval Europe masks were used in mystery and miracle plays to portray allegorical creatures, and the performer representing God frequently wore a gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 or gilt mask. During the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 masques and ballet de cour developed - courtly masked entertainments that continued as part of ballet
Ballet
Ballet is a type of performance dance, that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. The early portions preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were presented in large chambers with...

 conventions until the late eighteenth century. The masked characters of the Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

 included the ancestors of the modern clown. In contemporary western theatre the mask is often used alongside puppetry
Puppetry
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance which involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 30,000 years BC. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects...

 to create a theatre which is essentially visual rather than verbal, and many of its practitioners have been visual artists.

Masks are an important part of many theatre forms throughout world cultures, and their usage in theatre has often developed from, or continues to be part of old, highly sophisticated, stylized theatrical traditions. See also Masks in ritual.

Contemporary theatre



Masks and puppet
Puppet
A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre....

s were often incorporated into the theatre work of European avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 artists from the turn of the nineteenth century. Alfred Jarry
Alfred Jarry
Alfred Jarry was a French writer born in Laval, Mayenne, France, not far from the border of Brittany; he was of Breton descent on his mother's side....

, Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

, Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school. In 1923 he was hired as Master of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop, after working some time at the workshop of sculpture...

 and other artists of the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 School, as well as surrealists and Dadaists, experimented with theatre forms and masks in their work.

In the 20th Century many theatre practitioners, such as Meyerhold, Edward Gordon Craig
Edward Gordon Craig
Edward Henry Gordon Craig , sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was an English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings...

, Jacques Copeau
Jacques Copeau
Jacques Copeau was an influential French theatre director, producer, actor, and dramatist. Before he founded his famous Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris, he wrote theater reviews for several Parisian journals, worked at the Georges Petit Gallery where he organized exhibits of artists' works...

 and others in their lineage, attempted to move away from Naturalism. They turned to sources such as Oriental Theatre (partically Japanese Noh
Noh
, or - derived from the Sino-Japanese word for "skill" or "talent" - is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. Traditionally, a Noh "performance day" lasts all day and...

 theatre) and commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

, both of which forms feature masks prominently.

Edward Gordon Craig
Edward Gordon Craig
Edward Henry Gordon Craig , sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was an English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings...

 (1872–1966) in A Note on Masks (1910) proposed the virtues of using masks over the naturalism of the actor. Craig was highly influential, and his ideas were taken up by Brecht
Brecht
Brecht is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises the towns of Brecht proper, Sint-Job-in't-Goor and Sint-Lenaarts. On January 1, 2006 Brecht had a total population of 26,464...

, Cocteau, Genet
Jean Genet
Jean Genet was a prominent and controversial French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing...

, Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

 - and later by Arden
John Arden
John Arden is an award-winning English playwright from Barnsley . His works tend to expose social issues of personal concern. He is a member of the Royal Society of Literature....

, Grotowski and Brook
Peter Brook
Peter Stephen Paul Brook CH, CBE is an English theatre and film director and innovator, who has been based in France since the early 1970s.-Life:...

 and others who "attempted to restore a ritualistic if not actually religious significance to theatre".

Copeau, in his attempts to "Naturalise" the actor decided to use mask to liberate them from their "excessive awkwardness". In turn, Copeau's work with masks was taken on by his students including Etienne Decroux
Étienne Decroux
Étienne Decroux studied at Jacques Copeau's Ecole du Vieux-Colombier, where he saw the beginnings of what was to become his life's obsession–Corporeal Mime...

 and later, via Jean Daste
Jean Dasté
Jean Dasté, born Jean Georges Gustave Dasté, was an actor and theatre director....

, Jacques Lecoq
Jacques Lecoq
Jacques Pierre Lecoq born in Paris, was a French actor, mime and acting instructor.He is most famous for his methods on physical theatre, movement and mime that he taught at the school he founded in Paris, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq from 1956 until his death in...

. Lecoq, having worked as movement director at Teatro Piccalo in Italy, was influenced by the Commedia tradition. Lecoq met Amleto Satori, a sculptor, and they collaborated on reviving the techniques of making traditional leather Commedia masks. Later, developing Copeau's "noble mask", Lecoq would ask Satori to make him masques neutre (the neutral mask). For Lecoq, masks became an important training tool, the neutral mask being designed to facilitate a state of openness in the student-performers, moving gradually on to character and expressive masks, and finally to "the smallest mask in the world" the clown's red-nose. One highly important feature of Lecoq's use of mask, wasn't so much its visual impact on stage, but how it changed the performers movement on stage. It was a body-based approach to mask work, rather than a visually led one. Lecoq's pedagogy has been hugely influential for theatre practitioners in Europe working with mask and has been exported widely across the world. This work with masks also relates to performing with portable structures and puppetry
Puppetry
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance which involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 30,000 years BC. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects...

. Students of Lecoq have continued using masks in their work after leaving the school, such as in John Wright
John Wright (theatre director)
John Wright is an English theatre director.-Told By an Idiot:John Wright is an international director of theatre and is a co-founder and an artistic director of Told by an Idiot where he has directed most of their repertoire including: Aladdin at the Lyric Theatre, I Can’t wake up, On the verge of...

's Trestle Theatre.

In America, mask-work was slower to arrive, but the Guerrilla Theatre movement, typified by groups such as the San Francisco Mime Troupe
San Francisco Mime Troupe
The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a theatre of political satire which performs free shows in various parks in the San Francisco Bay Area and around California. The Troupe does not, however, perform silent mime, but each year creates an original musical comedy that combines aspects of Commedia...

 and Bread and Puppet Theatre took advantage of it. Influenced by modern dance, modern mime, Commedia dell'arte and Brecht such groups took to the streets to perform highly political theatre. Peter Schumann
Peter Schumann
Peter Schumann is the founder and director of the Bread & Puppet Theater. Born in Silesia, he was a sculptor and dancer in Germany before moving to the United States in 1961. In 1963 he founded Bread & Puppet in New York City, and in 1970 moved to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, eventually...

, the founder of Bread and Puppet theatre, made particular use of German Carnival masks. Bread and Puppet inspired other practitioners around the world, many of whom used masks in their work. In the US and Canada these companies include In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater of Minneapolis; Arm-of-the Sea Theatre from New York State; Snake Theater from California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

; and Shadowland Theatre of Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

. These companies, and others, have a strong social agenda, and combine masks, music and puppetry to create a visual theatrical form. Another route masks took into American Theatre was via dancer/choreographers such as Mary Wigman
Mary Wigman
Mary Wigman was a German dancer, choreographer, and dance instructor.A pioneer of expressionist dance, her work was hailed for bringing the deepest of existential experiences to the stage...

, who had been using masks in dance and had emigrated to America to flee the Nazi regime
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

In Europe Schumann's influence combined with the early avant-garde artists to encourage groups like Moving Picture Mime Show and Welfare State
Welfare State International
Welfare State International were an influential performance group based in the UK and founded in 1968 by John Fox and Sue Gill. Fox was, and remains, a vociferous proponent of 'celebratory theatre' and an anarchic, energetic and imaginative approach to creating theatre. In 2006 they felt the...

 (both in the UK). These companies had a big influence on the next generation of groups working in visual theatre, including IOU and Horse and Bamboo Theatre
Horse and Bamboo Theatre
Horse and Bamboo Theatre or Horse + Bamboo Theatre is a British theatre company founded in 1978 by Bob Frith. The company works with a commitment to strong narratives but using visual, physical, and music-based forms rather than text. In particular it uses distinctive full-head masks...

, who create a theatre in which masks are used along with puppets, film and other visual forms, with an emphasis on the narrative structure.

Functional masks


Masks are also familiar as pieces of kit associated with practical functions, usually protective. There has been a proliferation of such masks recently but there is a long history of protective armour and even medical masks to ward off plague. The contrast with performance masks is not always clear-cut. Ritual and theatrical masks themselves can be considered to be practical, and protective masks in a sports context in particular are often designed to enhance the appearance of the wearer.

Medical


Some masks are used for medical purposes:
  • Oxygen mask
    Oxygen mask
    An oxygen mask provides a method to transfer breathing oxygen gas from a storage tank to the lungs. Oxygen masks may cover the nose and mouth or the entire face...

    , a piece of medical equipment that assists breathing
  • Anesthetic mask
  • Burn mask, a piece of medical equipment that protects the burn tissue from contact with other surfaces, and minimises the risk of infection
  • Surgical mask
    Surgical mask
    A surgical mask also known as a procedure mask is intended to be worn by health professionals during surgery and at other times to catch the bacteria shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer's mouth and nose....

    , a piece of medical equipment that helps to protect both the surgeon and patient from acquiring infection from each other
  • Face shield
    Face shield
    A face shield is a device used to protect wearer's entire face from impact hazard such as flying objects and road debris, chemical splashes , or potentially infectious fluid .-Industry:...

    , to protect a medical professional from bodily fluids
  • Pocket mask
    Pocket mask
    A pocket mask, or pocket face mask or CPR mask, is a device used to safely deliver rescue breaths during a cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest.-Design:...

     or CPR mask, used to safely deliver rescue breaths during a cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest

Protective


Protective masks are pieces of kit or equipment worn on the head and face to afford protection to the wearer, and today usually have these functions:
  • Providing a supply of air or filtering the outside air.
  • Protecting the face against flying objects or dangerous environments, while allowing vision.


In Roman gladiator
Gladiator
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the...

ial tournaments masks were sometimes used. From archaeological evidence it is clear that these were not only protective but also helped make the wearer appear more intimidating. In medieval Europe and in Japan soldiers and samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 wore similarly ferocious-looking protective armour
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

, extending to face-masks.

In sport the protective mask will often have a secondary function to make the wearer appear more impressive as a competitor.

Before strong transparent materials such as polycarbonate
Polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...

 were invented, visor
Visor
A visor is a surface that protects the eyes, such as shading them from the sun or other bright light or protecting them from objects....

s to protect the face had to be opaque with small eyeslits, and were a sort of mask, as often in mediaeval suits of armour
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

, and (for example) Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 grímr meant "mask or visor".

Occupational

  • Filter mask, a piece of safety equipment
  • Gas mask
    Gas mask
    A gas mask is a mask put on over the face to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne pollutants and toxic gases. The mask forms a sealed cover over the nose and mouth, but may also cover the eyes and other vulnerable soft tissues of the face. Some gas masks are also respirators, though the word...

    , a mask worn on the face to protect the body from airborne pollutants and toxic materials
  • Beaked masks containing herbs in the beak were worn in the Middle Ages
    Middle Ages
    The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

     by plague doctors to try to ward off the Black Death
    Black Death
    The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

    .
  • Full-face diving mask as part of self-contained breathing apparatus for divers and others; some let the wearer talk to others through a built-in communication device
  • Oxygen mask
    Oxygen mask
    An oxygen mask provides a method to transfer breathing oxygen gas from a storage tank to the lungs. Oxygen masks may cover the nose and mouth or the entire face...

     worn by high-altitude pilots, or used in medicine to deliver oxygen, anesthetic, or other gases to patients
  • Welding mask to protect the welder's face and eyes from the brightness and sparks created during welding

Sports


  • Fencing
    Fencing
    Fencing, which is also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing, is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons.Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games...

     mask
  • Kendo
    Kendo
    , meaning "Way of The Sword", is a modern Japanese martial art of sword-fighting based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship, or kenjutsu.Kendo is a physically and mentally challenging activity that combines strong martial arts values with sport-like physical elements.-Practitioners:Practitioners...

    , a mask called Men is used in this Japanese sword-fighting martial art
  • Baseball
    Baseball
    Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

     catcher's mask
  • Balaclava, also known as a "ski mask", to protect the face against cold air
  • Diving mask
    Diving mask
    A diving mask is an item of diving equipment that allows scuba divers, free-divers, and snorkelers to see clearly underwater. When the human eye is in direct contact with water as opposed to air, its normal environment, light entering the eye is refracted by a different angle and the eye is unable...

    , an item of diving equipment that allows scuba divers, free-divers, and snorkelers to see clearly underwater
  • Goaltender mask, a mask worn by an ice
    Ice hockey
    Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

     or field hockey
    Field hockey
    Field Hockey, or Hockey, is a team sport in which a team of players attempts to score goals by hitting, pushing or flicking a ball into an opposing team's goal using sticks...

     goaltender to protect the head and face from injury
  • Visor (ice hockey)
  • Paintball mask
  • American football helmet face mask
  • Hurling
    Hurling
    Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

     The hurling helmet that was made mandatory in 2010, has a wire mask on the front to protect the player's face.


An interesting example of a sports mask that confounds the protective function is the Wrestling mask
Wrestling mask
A Wrestling mask is a fabric based mask that some professional wrestlers wear as part of their in-ring persona or gimmick. Professional wrestlers have been using masks as far back as 1915 and they are still widely used today, especially in Lucha Libre in Mexico.-History:In 1915 a North American...

, a mask most widely used in the Mexican/Latin lucha libre
Lucha libre
Lucha libre is a term used in Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries, for a form of professional wrestling that has developed within those countries...

 style of wrestling. In modern lucha libre, masks are colourfully designed to evoke the images of animals, gods
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

, ancient hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

es, and other archetypes. The mask is considered "sacred" to some degree, placing its role closer to the ritual and performance function.

Disguise



Masks are sometimes used to avoid recognition.
  • Occasionally a witness
    Witness
    A witness is someone who has firsthand knowledge about an event, or in the criminal justice systems usually a crime, through his or her senses and can help certify important considerations about the crime or event. A witness who has seen the event first hand is known as an eyewitness...

     for the prosecution appears in court
    Court
    A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

     in a mask to avoid being recognized by associates of the accused.
  • Participants in a black bloc
    Black bloc
    A black bloc is a tactic for protests and marches, whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing items...

     at protest
    Protest
    A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

    s usually wear masks, often bandannas
    Kerchief
    A kerchief is a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head or around the neck for protective or decorative purposes...

    , to avoid recognition, and to try to protect against any riot control agents used.

Masks are also used to prevent recognition whilst showing membership of a group:
  • Use by penitents of masks in ceremonies to disguise their identity in order to make the act of penitence more selfless. The Semana Santa parades throughout Spain and in Hispanic
    Hispanic
    Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

    /Catholic countries throughout the world are examples of this, with their cone shaped masks known as Capirote
    Capirote
    A capirote is a pointy hat of conical form that is used in Spain.Historically, the capirote was a cardboard cone that flagellants in Spain would use...

    .
  • Use by vigilante
    Vigilante
    A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

     groups
  • The cone-shaped mask in particular is identified with the Ku Klux Klan
    Ku Klux Klan
    Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

     in a self-conscious effort to combine the hiding of personal identity with the promotion of a powerful and intimidating image.
  • Members of the group Anonymous
    Anonymous (group)
    Anonymous is an international hacking group, spread through the Internet, initiating active civil disobedience, while attempting to maintain anonymity. Originating in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, the term refers to the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic,...

     frequently wear masks (usually Guy Fawkes mask
    Guy Fawkes mask
    The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the British House of Lords in 1605...

    s, best known from V for Vendetta
    V for Vendetta
    V for Vendetta is a ten-issue comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd, set in a dystopian future United Kingdom imagined from the 1980s to about the 1990s. A mysterious masked revolutionary who calls himself "V" works to destroy the totalitarian government,...

    ) when they attend protests.

Punitive



Masks are sometimes used to punish the wearer either by signalling their humiliation or causing direct suffering:
  • A "shameful" mask (Schandmaske in German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    ) 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
    Torture
    Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

     or corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment
    Corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable...

  • Masks were used to alienate and silence prisoners in Australian jails in the late 19th century. They were made of white cloth and covered the face, leaving only the eyes visible.

Fashion


Decorative masks may be worn as part of a costume outside of ritual or ceremonial functions. This is often described as a masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

, and relates closely to carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 styles. For example, attendants of a costume party will sometimes wear masks as part of their costumes.
  • Wrestling mask
    Wrestling mask
    A Wrestling mask is a fabric based mask that some professional wrestlers wear as part of their in-ring persona or gimmick. Professional wrestlers have been using masks as far back as 1915 and they are still widely used today, especially in Lucha Libre in Mexico.-History:In 1915 a North American...

    s are used most widely in Mexican
    Lucha libre
    Lucha libre is a term used in Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries, for a form of professional wrestling that has developed within those countries...

     and Japanese wrestling. A wrestler's mask is usually related to a wrestler's persona
    Persona
    A persona, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. The word is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek πρόσωπον...

     (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
    Job (professional wrestling)
    In professional wrestling slang, the term job describes a losing performance in a wrestling match. It is derived from the euphemism "doing one's job", which was employed to protect kayfabe. As professional wrestling is scripted, inevitably a wrestler will be required to lose to an opponent.The term...

    . The belief is that fans want to see a face to empathize with and will only get behind a wrestler that shows it.
  • Several bands and performers, notably members of the groups Slipknot
    Slipknot (band)
    Slipknot is an American heavy metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. Formed in 1995, the group was founded by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray...

     and Gwar
    Gwar
    Gwar is a satirical heavy metal band formed in Richmond, Virginia, United States, in 1984. The band is best known for its elaborate science fiction/horror film inspired costumes, obscene lyrics and graphic stage performances, which feature humorous enactments of politically and morally taboo...

    , and the guitarist Buckethead
    Buckethead
    Brian Carroll , better known by his stage name Buckethead, is a guitarist and multi instrumentalist who has worked within several genres of music. He has released 34 studio albums, four special releases and one EP. He has performed on over 50 more albums by other artists...

    , wear masks when they perform on stage. Several other groups, including Kiss
    KISS (band)
    Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well-known for its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting,...

    , Alice Cooper
    Alice Cooper
    Alice Cooper is an American rock singer, songwriter and musician whose career spans more than four decades...

    , and Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir
    Dimmu Borgir is a Norwegian black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. Dimmu borgir means "dark cities" or "dark castles/fortresses" in Icelandic, Faroese and Old Norse. The name is derived from a volcanic formation in Iceland, Dimmuborgir...

     simulate the effect with facepaint. Hollywood Undead
    Hollywood Undead
    Hollywood Undead is an American rap rock band from Los Angeles, California. They released their debut album, Swan Songs, on September 2, 2008, and their live CD/DVD Desperate Measures, on November 10, 2009. Their second studio album, American Tragedy, was released April 5, 2011...

     also wears masks but often remove them mid-performance.
  • Animal masks are worn about a subculture of frequent electronic music concert-goers. Each person has a specific animal mask that they usually wear, and wear that mask throughout the duration of the concert without removing the mask. While wearing the mask, these concert-goers go by a code name. They may also attend concerts unmasked, but when unmasked, they go by their real names. One particular group within this subculture. the Animal Masqueraders, coordinates mask-wearing times and social gatherings through a blog where all the members can communicate with each other.

Horror film


Masks have been used in many horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

s to conceal the identities of the killer. Notable examples include Jason Voorhees
Jason Voorhees
Jason Voorhees is a fictional character from the Friday the 13th series of slasher films. He first appeared in Friday the 13th , as the son of camp cook-turned-murderer, Mrs. Voorhees, in which he was portrayed by Ari Lehman. Created by Victor Miller, with contributions by Ron Kurz, Sean S...

 of the Friday the 13th series, Ghostface
Ghostface (Scream)
Ghostface is a fictional identity adopted by the main antagonists in the Scream series of slasher films. The character is voiced by Roger L. Jackson regardless of who is behind the mask...

 of the Scream
Scream (film series)
Scream is a series of American horror slasher films created by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. The films star Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. The series has grossed over $600 million in worldwide box-office receipts and consists, to date, of four motion pictures...

series and Michael Myers
Michael Myers (Halloween)
Michael Myers is a fictional character from the Halloween series of slasher films. He first appears in John Carpenter's Halloween as a young boy who murders his older sister, then fifteen years later returns home to murder more teenagers...

 of the Halloween
Halloween (franchise)
Halloween is an American horror franchise that consists of ten slasher films, novels, and comic books. The franchise focuses on the fictional character of Michael Myers who was committed to a sanitarium as a child for the murder of his older sister, Judith Myers...

series.

Other types


  • A "buccal mask
    Buccal mask
    A buccal mask is a mask covering the buccal area and mouth. Often the mask will also cover the nose, in which case it may also be referred to as a naso-buccal mask....

    " is a mask that covers only the cheeks (hence the adjective "buccal
    Buccal
    Buccal may refer to:* Mouth, a body cavity** Specifically the cheek* Buccal artery...

    ") and mouth.
  • A death mask
    Death mask
    In Western cultures a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits...

     is a mask either cast from or applied to the face of a recently deceased person.
  • A "facial
    Facial
    A facial is a procedure involving a variety of skin treatments, including: steam, exfoliation, extraction, creams, lotions, facial masks, peels, and massage...

    " (short for facial mask) is a temporary mask, not solid, used in cosmetics or as therapy for skin treatment.
  • A "life mask" is a plaster
    Plaster
    Plaster is a building material used for coating walls and ceilings. Plaster starts as a dry powder similar to mortar or cement and like those materials it is mixed with water to form a paste which liberates heat and then hardens. Unlike mortar and cement, plaster remains quite soft after setting,...

    cast of a face, used as a model for making a painting or sculpture.

Further reading

Hungarian translation of Rasmussen 1926.
  • Sivin, Carole (1986). "Maskmaking". Worcester, Massachusetts, USA: Davis Publications, Inc.
  • Smith, Susan Valeria Harris, "Masks in Modern Drama", Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
  • Huteson, Pamela Rae, "Transformation Masks", Blaine 2007 www.hancockhouse.com ISBN 0-88839-635-X
  • Wilsher, Toby, "The Mask Handbook - A Practical Guide", Routledge 2007, www.routledge.com

External links