History of Masks – A part of human culture for centuries.

Masks are objects that cover the face for variety of reasons. They are used for protection, disguise, entertainment or ritual practices and are made from various materials, depending of use. Earliest use of masks was for rituals and ceremonies, and the oldest found mask is from 7000 BC. Art of making masks could be older but because of the materials used for making them (leather and wood), they did not survive to this day. Oldest masks were of ritual purpose and could be found in many places of the world. They are generally similar in their overall appearance, but very different in style and way they are made and used. Masks are a part of human culture for centuries. They were used for sacred purposes and for profane, sometimes in the same time. They also had more or less practical use. This essential characteristic of hiding and revealing personalities or moods is common to all masks. As cultural objects they have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age and have been as varied in appearance as in their use and symbolism. Masks were used for a wide variety of purposes across many ancient cultures. Some of the most common purposes were as funerary masks for important persons, as protection in warfare, worn during theater performances, or to be worn by impersonators of gods during religious ceremonies. Materials were typically of high value such as gold, jade, and turquoise. This collection spans some 3,000 years from Egypt to the Americas. Greek theater masks were made of stiffened and painted linen so none have survived to the present day. We only know what they looked like because theater was so popular in Greek and Roman times that models of actors and masks were made in other materials such as terracotta, stone and bronze and depicted on gems and in paintings and mosaics. With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn by the old man character in many comedies of the 300s BC and later. Venice Carnival is a centuries old tradition and one of the world’s most famous carnivals. Venice Carnival is also becoming our own tradition; we just attended for the fourth year running. I’ve written previously about the history of Carnevale di Venezia, Carnevale events affordable for everyone like a Giro d’ombra pub crawl, and what it’s like to masquerade. But it’s the masks, the quintessential feature, that makes the Venice Carnival unique from Italy’s other famous carnivals. The tradition of the mask started in the 13th century when Venetians would hold celebrations and parties from December 26th until the start of Lent and wear elaborate masks to conceal their identity. These parties were the only time when the lower and upper classes mingled together. Aristocrats and peasants, disguised by their masks, played out their fantasies together. They indulged in illicit activities like gambling, clandestine affairs, political assassination, and dancing and partying the night away. Considered to be the traditional Venetian mask, bauta comes from the German “behüten“, meaning to protect. It is always white and used to mostly cover the facial features. It is always worn with the black hat with three tips (tricorno). The Halloween mask is one of the most popular aspects of this scary holiday, as it not only completes your costume, but also allows you to transform yourself into someone—or something—else for an evening. In modern times, children wear masks on October 31 to trick-or-treat in local neighborhoods asking for candy and other sugar-filled treats. However, the history of the Halloween mask is much scarier and more chilling than the modernized festivity of a holiday filled with candy and pumpkins. To appreciate the true meaning behind the mask, it can be helpful to know some details about the origins of Halloween masks.The origin of the Halloween mask dates back many centuries to the Celtic festival of Samhain, a celebration that honors the end of summer and the beginning of the coldness and darkness of winter. The Celts believed that, during this period, the boundary between this world and the next was very thin and that spirits could pass through the living world and wreak havoc on people. To scare away evil spirits and prevent them from entering homes, the Celts dressed up in costumes and wore scary masks, since they believed this would trick the spirits and keep them from knowing people’s identities. There are numerous types of African mask produced by the various tribes and people of Africa. Ritual and ceremonial masks are an important part of most African cultures. Some Interesting African masks information : African mask are generally made to be used. This African art is usually made to be used in various ceremonies and social events such as weddings and funerals.2:Mask are often decorated with such things as animal hair or straw (for hair and beards), animal horns, animal teeth, feathers, and sea shells.3:African mask often represent the cultural values of the tribe. For example In Gabon large mouths and chins represent strength and authority.


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