A mask (from Arabic مسخرة, DMG masḫara ' fool , farce , teasing , joke ') is a face covering that is mostly used in theater and art as well as for ritual and religious purposes, often supplemented by disguise or costumes . As a protective mask , it can be used to protect the face or parts of it. The term mask is also generally used to cover the body, from half masks to full-body masks . In theater and film the work area of make- up artists is referred to as “the mask”, their activity as “making a mask”, which includes, above all, making up .
According to their origins, masks were plastic structures made of natural materials such as parts of plants , leather , wood , clay or cloth (see also larva ) worn in front of the face . More recently, masks are mainly made from plastics . A mask can fulfill very different tasks in different contexts, so its wearer can transform himself into a depicted figure with its help (see for example animal role play ), or the mask enables the practice of new or assumed social roles .
The root of the mask lies in religious acts ( cults ). So masks are today ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in ritual dances used to protect deities to worship or deter evil spirits. The mask that covers the face or is worn as a headpiece is only part of what is meant by it in most ethnic cultures . The costumes made of fabrics or plant fibers are an indispensable part of the entire mask. Carved masks are also forms of plastic art , above all they are part of a ritual or a mask appearance or a dance. Beings, auxiliary spirits or personified natural forces that mediate between the world of humans and that of the gods and ancestors are depicted in a lifelike and impressive way.
Mask appearances, for example, played an important role in the kingdoms of Africa: Their appearances are manifestations of different systems of education, instruction, social, cultural and economic integration, but also social control up to judicial and punitive functions as well as the exercise and regulation of political power. The wearers of a mask were not simply viewed as disguised people; in the consciousness of the people participating in the ritual, they were the addressed spirits or ancestors themselves. The production of a mask was therefore often carried out in compliance with ritual regulations and in complete isolation. Masks could be sacrificed or given a special power charge.
Death masks have also been made since ancient times . In contrast to their current use as a reminder of the deceased, they were originally intended to ward off disaster or had a spiritual function. The most famous example of this is probably Tutankhamun's death mask .
From the Paleolithic , rock drawings of animal-human beings are known that can be interpreted as shamans , for example rock paintings , Les Trois Frères , hybrid creatures of human and animal from the archaeological cultural stage of the Magdalenian around 15,000 BC. The shamanistic interpretation of animal-human rock carvings is ambiguous because animal skulls (with and without fur) were used as head masks by many peoples until the 20th century, so it could also be depicted hunting scenes. In general, however, the peoples who knew shamanism were of the opinion that a mask gives its wearer access to another world by identifying with the cover, e.g. B. with a totem animal , or transforms into the entity that represents the Lave (so-called transformation mask ), and appropriates its powers.
Some masks are supposed to serve the ritual protection of the wearer. Mask-like demonic grimacing faces and horror images can also be found in the architecture of medieval churches, e.g. B. in the form of sheet masks (Gorgonenhaupt, Engl. Green Man ); they are said to have an apotropaic effect and ward off disaster.
European masks from the holdings of the MEK
Theater: utensil and make-up
A laughing and a crying mask ( comedy and tragedy ) have been symbols of dramatic theater since ancient Greece and are still used today in travel guides or municipal event booklets as a pictogram for the performing arts in Western cultures. In our time, this symbol usually includes ballet and opera in addition to theater in general.
In four solid leather masks that clearly show the types - the best known are the harlequin and the bajazzo - they have continued to exist in the Commedia dell'arte since the Renaissance . Because of the face covering , mask then also stands for the figure or role as a whole, and subsequently also for a person in costumes, for example at the Carnival in Venice .
Until the 19th century, the term mask was also used for the combination of half mask, costume and role for certain types of roles: The so-called character masks, for example, represented the doctor or Hans Wurst, the so-called national masks the French or the Spanish
Today the mask (in the sense of a "face disguise") in theater and film is often only made up, as very few mask makers are familiar with the art of making the theater mask. In addition, the highly stylized art direction of playing with the mask is not taught comprehensively at directing and drama schools in Germany.
Based on all of these masks, the room in which the make- up artist works in theater and film is still referred to today as “the mask” (the actors are usually only made up, do their hair, disguised and dressed up). Playing with a mask is now also used specifically in individual scenes in theaters, e.g. B. to represent human feelings and ideas, transcendent things or dream realities. Here the mask play enables a body-hugging, expressive and poetic form of theater play. Once the face is covered, the body and movement come to the fore. With a full face mask, the language is no longer available, which opens up new possibilities for expression.
Well -known, very specialized artists such as Stefanie Buss , Stephanie Hermes , Fratinelli de Marchi , Donato Sartori , Erhard Stiefel and Lars Maué work in the field of theater masks . Playing with the theater mask is cultivated by well-known groups in Scandinavia, the USA and Italy. The Berlin mask theater Familie Flöz is celebrating great success with its performances at home and abroad.
Jacques Lecoq developed his theater theory based on the concept of the "neutral mask". Studying acting at the École Internationale De Théatre Jacques Lecoq , which he founded , began with the use of the neutral mask. Then the Commedia dell'Arte masks are taught, and at the end of the year, the red nose, the smallest mask in the world, is played. The red nose is used as a mask by clowns in both circus and theater.
Face masks and overall coverings can still be found today in the customs of the entire Alpine region and in the neighboring Swabian-Alemannic region (also called larva or scheme there), especially for Fas (t) Nacht or New Year's Eve customs .
Since the European Middle Ages , make-up masks have increasingly replaced fixed masks. Only in the figure of the clown in the circus , as costume in carnival, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival , Halloween and isolated in the Pantomime the rigid mask lives in Europe on.
The half mask is particularly popular at the Venice Carnival . It covers only part or half of the face and was originally a theatrical or speaking mask . A half mask made it easier for the actors to speak loudly and clearly, for example in the Italian Commedia dell'arte . Half masks are also used during the Basel Carnival for the piccolo players of the Pfeiffer groups (see Basel artist larva ).
Half masks were worn on various occasions in order to maintain anonymity and not to be recognized (incognito) , in the 17th and 18th centuries also outside of the carnival period. At that time, the half mask was also an elegant and useful fashion utensil with which elegant English or French women protected their skin from the sun's rays or winter cold ( Cachenez , Moretta muta ).
In architecture , in the Gothic , Renaissance and Baroque periods , the mask was often used as architectural decoration, gargoyle , door knocker , keystone , etc. An example of this are the warrior masks at the Berlin armory by Andreas Schlueter in 1697.
Renaissance and Baroque art
The mask is used in allegories from the 16th to 18th centuries as a visual symbol of deception and deception, for example in pictures by Agnolo Bronzino or Baldassare Franceschini , called Il Volterrano . Since the early 17th century at the latest, they have also been found as an attribute of personifications of artistic imitation and simulation, especially of the deceptive power of painting. Many of these symbolic uses of the mask are determined by the equipment of corresponding allegories in the Iconologia of Cesare Ripa (cf. Leuschner 1997).
The different styles of music are associated with a certain appearance, which also includes the costumes. In addition, a mask worn at a concert can be related to the content or moods of music. The British rock group Genesis caused a sensation during one of their performances in the 1970s, when their front man Peter Gabriel used various masks (that of a fox and that of an old man) to create a certain atmosphere or the “lyrical me” of one To represent the song.
As an integral part of the stage outfit, masks have a high expressive and recognition value, such as the heavily made-up faces of heavy metal bands ( Kiss , King Diamond , Mayhem , Slipknot , Marilyn Manson ) or the solid panda mask of the singer from Cro , which is also his Hides identity. The trademark of the Berlin rapper Sido is a chrome-plated skull mask that he wore at the beginning of his career and with which he wanted to provoke. For a long time Lady Gaga “masked” herself in an extreme manner with a similar intention .
Criminals often use masks to avoid being recognized. In many cultures and countries, being masked while committing a crime increases the punishment. In some countries, wearing masks during demonstrations and gatherings is also a criminal offense ( prohibition of masking ).
The obscuration through masks is also used by non-criminal groups. In particular by special units of the police or the military , in order to minimize the risk of revenge against their members through anonymization. The balaclava is typically used here .
In court, endangered witnesses may be protected by wearing a mask.
Also in the guessing program What am I? masks were used to hide the prominent guest .
Shoe shiners in the Bolivian city of La Paz cover their faces because the work in this area is seen as a social disgrace.
The use of protective masks should primarily damage the face - specifically: the skin and eyes there - and then possibly (via the nose) also the respiratory tract and the lungs from noxious substances such as chemicals , heat, cold, dust and splinters or light that is too strong (which occurs e.g. during welding ) must be avoided. Typical examples of such protective masks are the respiratory protection mask and the medical mouth and nose protection .
Protective masks are also used in the field of sports ; For example, divers use special diving masks underwater . Protective masks are also used in other sports , e.g. B. fencing , paintball or airsoft , lucha libre , American football and hockey ( goalkeeper mask ). In motorsport , special fire-resistant masks are usually worn to protect against burns in the event of an accident.
- Bauta (mask costume in the Carnival of Venice)
- Cachenez (baroque half mask)
- Moretta muta (special Venetian mask for women)
- Masque (courtly mask play of the 17th century)
- Nyau dance (secret society in Southeast Africa)
- Chhau (dance dramas in East India)
- Mahakali pyakhan (traditional dance theater style in Nepal)
- Mask stone (rune stones from the Viking Age)
- Mascaron (grimace head as decoration on buildings)
- Character mask (Marxist term: the alienated person in capitalism)
- The Mask (1994 US comedy film with Jim Carrey)
- Kurt Röttgers , Monika Schmitz-Emans : Masks (= philosophical-literary reflections. Volume 11). Blue Owl, Essen 2009, ISBN 978-3-89924-262-1 .
- Eckhard Leuschner: Persona, Larva, Mask. Iconological studies from the 16th to the early 18th centuries . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1997.
- Tom Grigull: Japanese Larvae and Masks. A Leipzig collection, the Tokugawa and the Dainenbutsu-Sarugaku in Kyoto. Dissertation Munich 2011 ( digitized version ).
- Richard Weihe: The Paradox of the Mask. History of a form . Fink, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-7705-3914-1 .
- Theodora Kroeber : Ishi in Two Worlds - A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America. University of California Press, 1961, ISBN 0-520-00675-5 .
- Hans Belting : Faces - A story of the face. Beck, 2013, ISBN 978-3-406-64430-6 . (Historical outline of the connection between mask, gaze and face from a philosophical, ethnological, sociological and art-historical perspective).
- Ralf Beil, Guy Cogeval, Flemming Friborg (eds.): Masks: Metamorphoses of the face from Rodin to Picasso . Catalog of the exhibition Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt , Musée d'Orsay Paris, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Copenhagen March 8th – 7th. June 2009. Hatje Cantz, Paris / Darmstadt et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-7757-2387-9 .
- Sylvia Ferino-Pagden, Kunsthistorisches Museum (ed.): We are mask. A journey through times and cultures . Catalog of the exhibition Museum für Völkerkunde Vienna, June 4th – 28th. September 2009. Vienna 2009.
- Albrecht von Blumenthal : Persona 1 . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume XIX, 1, Stuttgart 1937, Sp. 1036-1040.
- Jacques Lecoq: The Poetic Body. A lesson from the theater. 3rd, corrected and enlarged edition. Alexander, Berlin / Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-89581-260-6 , p. ??.
- L. Kybalová et al. a .: The great image lexicon of fashion - from antiquity to the present. 3. Edition. Bertelsmann, Berlin 1967/1977, pp. 177 + 187.