ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Masks, Tradition and Commercialism

Updated on March 26, 2012

Masks

Source

Curiosity of Masks

Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by masks. A mask can be the vessel used to step outside oneself and into another realm or characteristic. Some masks were created to celebrate the dead, others were created to call upon deities and the power they hold to help or to hurt. Masks are created and worn by many cultures on this planet.

In African culture creation of masks for ceremonial and ritual purposes were long ago taught by a father to his son. The artists of the masks held a very special status. The symbolism of the mask was taught to the person creating the mask. The knowledge of symbolism allowed the creator to put the energy of the symbolism into the mask. In most African cultures the person wearing the mask loses their identity and becomes the spirit represented by the mask. In the ritual or ceremony there is usually dance and music which helps call the spirit and causes the person to lose their identity and take on the identity of the spirit. Some ceremonies include weddings, funerals, and initiation rights. In African culture usually men such as chiefs, warriors, witch doctors or kings wore masks.

In Japanese culture archeological evidence supports masks have been used as long ago as 10,000 B.C. They were created and worn for ritual and performance. In Japanese culture masks represent people, heroes, devils, ghosts, animals and deities. Early masks were created out of clay or cloth. Masks were used for magic rituals, religion, shaman ceremonies, as well as funeral and talisman purposes. The Gigaku the oldest masks, were used in an ancient dance originating in Korea and being introduced in Japan in the 7th century. The dramas consisted of mimes and processions set to music to act out the performance. The masks carved with dramatic expressions covered the whole head, were made of wood, had hair pasted on them and represented lions, bird, demons or superhuman creatures. Bugaku masks worn in performances in traditional court music are made of cypress wood and only covered the performers face. The expressions are not as exaggerated.

Native Aboriginals of the United States created masks for medicinal, spiritual and entertainment purposes. It is believed masks that represent animals while worn during specific rituals, would cause the person wearing the mask to take on the characteristics of the animal. It is believed the spirit of the animal would enter the person wearing the mask. Masks were used by shamans, and warrior societies as well as by those to induct a younger person coming of age into the tribe. The rituals were sacred to the societies performing them and were for their eyes only. Shamans wore masks to represent or conjure creation or war. Potlatch is a ceremony celebrated by two or more tribes where the chiefs of the tribes would exchange gifts to show the wealth and generosity of the tribe. The tribes would exchange gifts and have a feast. Dances were performed to tell stories. The people performing the dance would wear the masks given by the chiefs to act out the stories. These ceremonies celebrated sharing and coming together. Tribes recognized and respected their differences and the strength of coming together.

Commercialism of these masks has become wide spread and has somewhat lessened the traditional meanings of these masks and the importance of them in culture. With many cultures becoming extinct for one reason or another we are lucky to know the uses of masks on this planet by aboriginal people for celebrations, funerals, calling of deities, war dances or simply entertainment. These ceremonies or rituals celebrated a simpler time where aboriginals co-existed with the Earth, called on the Earth, the gods, deities, and the animal spirits for help in creation, war, and celebration of those passed on. Many cultures across the planet used masks to celebrate many of the same beliefs in different ways. Hopefully these beautiful spiritual celebrations and traditions of co-existence never fade out. Commercialism can fade things and bury traditions simply because the person purchasing the mask likes how it looks and doesn't think to go any further into exploring or respecting where they came from. With that said, I'm going to do a lot more exploration myself. Thank you for reading.

Teotihuacan (AD 100-650) Mexico

Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Amethystraven profile imageAUTHOR

      Amethystraven 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you for reading Seeker7. I'm glad Andrew found an avenue to perform drama. Drama can unleash so many aspects of a person.I hope he learned a lot from drama, and I hope he's still enjoying it. I've found masks to be very interesting, especially those that are for protection. They seem to be the most fierce looking masks.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      What a wonderful hub! I have to say that for me masks can be fascinating but also scary at times. But it's really interesting how far back in history they go and that they are used by so many different cultures!

      A friend of mine whose son (Andrew) was studying drama at a local college, told us about a class that he had attended early on in his studies. Andrew said he was very nervous about performing to the point that it was making him ill but drama was something he felt he had to do. Anyway, this class, one of the first, was about self image and confidence. The drama tutor had designed masks for all the students. Andrew told us that, on putting the mask on, it was like a complete transformation. He felt confident and began to really enjoy the drama class. But what is more interesting is that, during the rest of the course, and using a visualisation technique, Andrew felt that prior to performances he could once again mentally put this mask on to calm himself down - and it worked every time.

      I really enjoyed this wonderful hub of yours + voted up!!

    • Amethystraven profile imageAUTHOR

      Amethystraven 

      6 years ago from California

      I love masks. There are so many from all over the world. Every culture I've read about that uses masks, uses them in the same way. They are a beautiful part of culture because of the power they invoke and the symbolism they hold.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      My whole wall in my frontroom is covered by masks! lol! I love them, and collect them everywhere I go. They are the Venetian style, used in Masked Balls, and I love them, fascinating hub, cheers nell

    • Amethystraven profile imageAUTHOR

      Amethystraven 

      6 years ago from California

      I myself would like to go to a masquerade ball. I have never been. They seem so interesting and mysterious. I'm glad you found my hub interesting. I'm looking forward to reading more of yours.

    • Amethystraven profile imageAUTHOR

      Amethystraven 

      6 years ago from California

      Thank you for reading and thanks for the warm welcome :-)

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 

      6 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      We all wear masks of one sort or another, perhaps not so much literally any more but symbolically more so than ever before in history. We hide behind our computers and make believe we are something we are not and operate under false pretenses in our every day lives. Great article I voted it up and interesting.

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 

      6 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Interesting hub! Strange how sometimes a mask can help a person to feel more authentic. I've always been fascinated by them. BTW welcome to Hub Pages!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)