Many masks are primarily associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or the curing of sickness. Other masks are used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in reenactments of mythological events. Masks are also used for warfare and as protective devices in particular activities or during inclement weather. As indicated above, masks representing potentially harmful spirits were often used to keep a required balance of power or a traditional relationship of inherited positions within a culture. The forms of these masks invariably were prescribed by tradition , as were their uses. This type of mask was often associated with secret societies , especially in Africa, where the greatest range of types and functions can be found.
Chinese Masks: History and Meaning
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The functions and forms of masks
A mask is an object normally worn on the face , typically for protection, disguise , performance , or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer's body.
Masks have been worn in nearly all cultures, for various reasons, since the Stone Age. Masks have been worn as a form of disguise, by an actor in a performance, as part of a religious ceremony, as part of membership in a secret society, as punishment for a criminal or in celebration of a holiday. Egyptians used masks as part of their burial ceremony. The masks that were placed upon the face of the deceased often contained spells intended to protect the spirit on its journey into the afterlife. The masks were usually painted with gold and contained precious stones.