Mask making


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Mask making

  1. 1. Masks are objects that cover the face for variety of different reasons such as for protection, disguise, entertainment or ritual practices. Masks are made from various materials, depending on how / why they are being used. Earliest use of masks was for rituals and ceremonies, and the oldest found mask is from 7000 BC. In the pre historic era, warriors and hunters wore animal-like masks so as to disguise themselves, making hunting easier – they would be made out of mud, animal’s skin and fur. Tribes used masks for healing purposes and then this developed into theatre because they were used to connect with the spirits and contact the dead, and to also allow spirits to be inside them when performing. Oldest theatre masks are from Ancient Greece and masks used in traditional Japanese Noh drama. They worshiped Dionysus, son of Zeus and god / patron of the arts. One reason for wearing a mask is to pretend to be someone or something else. The mask can be a kind of language that expresses the emotion of the figure one chooses to create. Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character’s appearance. Some masks served more than one purpose, e.g. In a large open-air theatre, like the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, the classical masks were able to bring the characters’ face closer to the audience, especially since they had intensely over- exaggerated facial features and expressions. Masks were at that time were normally made of wood, cloth or leather and were very creatively designed. Many masks were decorated with hair from either other people, or even from animals. Only a small hole was drilled only at a spot where the pupil of the eye was, so the actor could see through. Unfortunately none of the old, traditional masks have survived. Only 2-3 actors were allowed on the stage at one time, and masks permitted quick transitions from one character to another. There were only male actors, but masks allowed them to play female characters as well.
  2. 2. The Renaissance started approximately in 1400 AD. It saw the creation of many masks, mostly in Italy and were much different to any seen before. There were full faced masks, half face, head and on a stick (venetian/ masquerade masks). In Italy during the Renaissance, masquerade balls were very popular among the rich. People would wear colourful masks to hide their identities and to be mysterious and also to celebrate. Masks generally would cover the top portion of the face. It may have been placed on top of a type of stick, so that the wearer held it to his face and removed it when desired. The masks were decorated with attractive designs and jewels. Comedies were a popular genre at the time, because it was the theatre’s response to the political and economic crisis in the 16th century. Commedia dell’arte is one of these forms of theatre meaning ‘comedy of artists’. Commedia dell’ Arte masks were often made of leather and formed to show exaggerated facial expressions. Arlecchino or Harlequin is a crafty servant character who wears a black mask with raised eyebrows. Pantalone is a miserly old man who wears a mask with a big nose and bushy eyebrows. These types of masks were not worn by the citizens of Venice, only by the performing actors. They were a group of street performers when they started out who used masks with exaggerated features for comedy, then when more and more people joined, there were groups of actors who travelled around together. In later years, the tradition spread all over Europe. In the 20th century, when Mr. Bean was created, the idea was influenced by Commedia dell’arte. In the modern day (20th – 21st Century) masks are used for many different reasons, such as for protection e.g. dentistry, safety e.g. engineering, to disguise oneself e.g. Halloween, in films and theatre e.g. for certain characters, and at parties, e.g. fancy dress. A popular example is medical reasons, if for example a person has suffered damage to the face, they can be fitted with a prosthetic facial mask so that they feel comfortable and socially acceptable. ‘Masks’ is now a wide topic due to the incredible advances in technology and materials, meaning there is a lot more intricate detail. They have developed in ways that ensure they are more comfortable to wear and much more varied. Almost anything a person desires can be made into a mask, for example a style of animal print, a superhero or a scary character for Halloween.