Novelty Animal Masks
There's nothing quite so disconcerting as when a stranger comes up to you from behind at a party, says "hello" and when you turn around, discover he has the head of a horse. These days animal masks have an uncanny realism that makes them slightly disturbing - but fun.
Animals masks are great for fancy dress, pagan rituals, Halloween, parties, scaring the children, hiding your identity or if you just want to horse around. Try taking the dog for a walk in one of these and watch the neighbours eyes widen.
So how do you see out of them? Well, the latex masks on this page have specially designed discreet holes in the eyes and nose that make seeing and breathing a breeze, plus a slit up the back for easy wearing and removal.
Shades of Paganism
The practice of humans donning the head of an animal has been around for centuries. It featured in the mythologies of the ancient world and was particular popular in pagan times -animals were endowed with meanings and each one symbolised something special.
In Animism, a branch of paganism, animals were thought to be spiritual beings, representing a life principle. Practitioners used to dress themselves in animal costumes to represent these principles during pagan festivals, ceremonies and rituals.
Halloween has its roots in paganism and the tradition of wearing animal masks was practised at the earliest Halloween festivals. Those who wore animal masks hoped to absorb the power of the particular animal they chose to represent.
Animal masks were also a way to conceal one's identity and even change a persons personality, as it was believed the costume allowed for communication with the spirit world.
In Northern Wales, a luck bringing tradition known as Mari Lwyd (grey mare) involves a group of people visiting pubs and houses door to door and singing, accompanied by someone dressed up as a horse, in the hope of an invite inside and being treated with food and drink.
In literature all over the world human versions of animals (or animal versions of humans) appear in the oral tradition, film, song and particularly in children's literature.
From Lewis Carroll's white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, to Winnie the Pooh and Stuart Little, we have been amused and intrigued by the idea of a merging of human traits with animal forms. It seems, no matter how far back we go we have always looked for an animal/human connection.
- Strange Superstitions and Weird Wives Tales
Some old wives tales and superstitions predate literacy and are part of the great oral tradition that is passed down through generations.