Folk rites and ceremonies
• Warning mask
Judge wears a mask to protect him from future retaliation.
• (the mask stands for a traditional spirit from the past who assumes responsibility for the
decision for the punishment- powerful ancestors to remind them of punishment)
• Harmful spirit masks were often used to keep the balance of power with the people.
Ritual Masks and Masks Honoring Spirits or Ancestor
• Ancestors-used to make offerings to the gods.
• Usually recognizable as dead chieftains, relatives, friends, or even enemies.
• Supernatural spirits have both a religious and a social significance.
• Some masks are used when a young tribesman is shown his role as an adult.
Spirit masks are donned by the elders at these ceremonies.
Masks as Totems
• Totem Mask-Believing everything in nature had a spirit inside them, early man found power
identifying with a specific nonhuman spirit. He adopted an object of nature-like the water, or an
eagle; then he traced his ancestry through myths back to the chosen object.
• Chose the animal as the emblem of himself and his clan.
• Helped to identify the family.
• Masks were made to house the totem's spirit.
• The high priest and medicine man, or the shaman, had his own very powerful totem,
• he could exorcise evil spirits, punish enemies, locate game or fish, predict the weather, cure
Funeral Ceremony Masks
• Funeral Masks were made to protect the deceased by frightening away evil spirits.
• Ancient Egyptians placed stylized masks with general human features on the faces of their
dead. The mask guided the spirit of the deceased back to its final resting place in the body.
• Ancient Rome- a mask resembling the deceased was often placed over his face
these masks were sometimes preserved as ancestor portraits and were displayed on
ceremonial occasions. These masks were usually made of clay and wax.
• Life mask had been produced in Egypt during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. These were
realistic portraits painted in colored wax on wood during a person's lifetime
when the person died, they were attached directly to the facial area on the mummy shroud.
• Skull mask of the Aztecs, were inlaid with mosaics of turquoise and lignite, and the eye
sockets were filled with pyrites-possibly worn to prevent and to cure disease.
Masks used in Curing Sickness.
• Masked Members of secret societies could drive disease demons from entire villages and
• Professional Healers performed violent pantomimes to exorcise the dreaded demons who
plagued the Iroquois. They were grimacing, twisted masks, often with long wigs of horsehair.
Metallic inserts often were used around the eyes to catch the light of the campfire and the
moon, emphasizing the evil ugliness of the mask.
• Disease Masks are found mostly in the East. Masks for protection from disease include the
measles masks worn by Chinese children and the cholera masks worn
War and Hunting Masks
• War Masks will have a wicked expression or hideously fantastic features to instill fear in the
• Hunting Masks. Disguise masks were used in the early Stone Age in stalking prey. Later
they were used to house the slain animal's spirit in the hope of calming it.
Festive Occasion Masks
• Include Halloween, Day of the Dead, Mardi Gras, Carnival, or the “masked ball”.
The festival goer's disguise is used to create an amusing character, resulting in humorous
confusions, or to achieve anonymity
• Festival Masks are used to help in allowing festival goers a good-natured license to release
from inhibitions, and participate in merry making. They look ridiculous, grotesque, or
• Central European Festivals have folk demons and characters still used by peasants, such as
the Perchten masks of Alpine Austria, are most likely in the tradition of medieval masks
• Portray characters in a dramatic performance or in re-enactments of mythological events
From the religious practices of ancient Greece.
Grotesques of all sorts, such as devils, demons, dragons, and personifications of the seven
• Impersonate gods.
• A disguise
• Japanese No Drama Masks. Symbolic colors and character
• Chinese Religious Drama Masks;. The mask identifies the particular character and conveys
his personality. Masks employed in these ceremonies are highly ornamented, with jeweled and
elaborately filigreed headgears.
• Lion and Dragon dances of both China and Japan, a stylized mask of the beast is carried on
a pole by people whose bodies are covered by a cloth.