TITLE: Monkey Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Honduras
SUBREGION: Unknown
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Monkey (Mono) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Unknown, probably Carnival
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: painted glass eyes; adhesive; oil-based paint

Honduras has a diverse population composed primarily of persons of mixed ancestry (mestizos), but also distinct ethnic groups such as creoles, the Garifuna people, and various indigenous nations. Very little is known about masquerade in Honduras except for among the Garifuna people, who mostly use wire-mesh masks in their dances. This monkey mask bears some resemblance to similar masks from Guatemala, which suggests it might originate in western Honduras, part of which formerly belonged to the Mayan empire that ruled over Guatemala. It was likely made for use in Carnival.

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TITLE: Chwibari Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Hwanghae Province
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Bongsan Talchum Chwibari (Drunkard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker at Seoul Institute for the Arts
CEREMONY: Talchum Drama
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2005
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton hood; stitching; paint

Talchum has been called Korea’s first “professional” masked dance drama, although it originated as part of seasonal festivities in the Bongsan region, it later relocated to Sariwon, on a major trade route, and during the Japanese Colonial Era was performed in a theater for paying patrons. The drama is accompanied by music played on a small samheyon yukgak ensemble, consisting of three aerophones, one chordophone, and two membranophones.

This mask represents a drunkard (chwibari) who performs the kaekki chum dance. In the Fourth Act of the drama, a very holy monk abandons his doctrines and seduces a shaman girl. Later, a drunkard appears and, challenging the monk, wins the girl for himself.  After she bears his baby, she abandons him, and chwibari undertakes to educate his child himself.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

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TITLE: Donald Duck Mask
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
ETHNICITY: Mixed
DESCRIPTION: Rubber Disney-Licensed Donald Duck Mask
MAKER: unknown
CEREMONY: Halloween
AGE: early 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: rubber
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

This mask represents Donald Duck, a popular character from the Walt Disney Company cartoons of the mid-twentieth century. Its appearance and materials place it in the 1950s, but the circumstances of its creation and licensing by the Disney Company are unknown.  It was probably used as part of a Halloween costume.

Click above to watch a documentary about Halloween in the United States.

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TITLE: Payaso Abanderado
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Ecuador
SUBREGION: Cotopaxi
ETHNICITY: Mestizo
DESCRIPTION: Payaso Abanderado (Flag-Bearing Clown)
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fiesta de la Mama Negra
AGE: ca. 1960s-1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: hardwood
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; paint

The Fiesta de la Mama Negra (Festival of the Black Mama) is a celebration held in September and again in early November in Latacunga, Ecuador. The event originates in pre-colonial indigenous practices and was adapted to honor the Virgin of Mercy (Virgen de la Merced) after Catholic conversion, in thanks for her supposed  intervention to protect the population from eruptions from the nearby Cotopaxi volcano.  The festival has become one of the most important in Latacunga, and includes a parade (comparsa) featuring the Mama Negra prominently as an African version of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Other important masks include animals, the Rey Moro (King Moor, showing the influence of the Conquistadors), angels, clowns (payasos abanderados), and miscellaneous other characters. This festival opens with the huacos, representing precolonial Aymara shamans who parade to cure the diseases of the crowd. This mask is a payaso abanderado, marked with crucifixes (as is traditional) and carrying the flag of Ecuador.

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TITLE: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Korean expatriates in China
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kuunmong Drama
FUNCTION: entertainment
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; stitching; cotton cloth; dyed cotton cords; elastic band; hardware

This mask was probably made by Korean expatriates living in China for use in a performance of the Kuunmong drama.  Kuunmong, or “The Cloud Dream of the Nine,” is a 17th century Korean novel set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Although probably originally written in Chinese, it was early translated into Korean and is considered one of the main masterpieces of Korean literature.  Kuunmong tells the story of two young men who live strict Buddhist and Confucian lives, respectively.  The Confucian hero, So-yoo, marries or takes as concubines eight beautiful maidens, of which this mask probably represents one.  The mask is thus not made for a traditional cultural ceremony of Korea, but rather as a form of entertainment and cultural education.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

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TITLE: Boules Janissary Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Paros
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Yianitsaros (Janissary) Mask
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; horse hair; metal foil; cotton stitching; metal and plastic ornament

The origin of the Boules (Brides) Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Paros, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of the island of Paros.  The Ottoman Empire controlled Paros from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered.  The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked brides and Yiantisari (Janissaries), Greek soldiers fighting for the Turks. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade, and all wear the same costume.  In the case of the Janissary, he wears a white, wide-sleeved blouse, a short skirt, leggings, a cloth cap, and carries a sword. They parade through the town to the music of traditional bands, until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go from house to house collecting donations.

This specific mask was danced by Gregory Tararas (Naoussa, 1985- ) for four years, from 2009-2012.

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TITLE: Boules Bride Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Greece
SUBREGION: Naoussa, Paros
ETHNICITY: Hellenic
DESCRIPTION: Boulas (Bride) Mask
MAKER: Alexandros Karydas (Naoussa, 1985- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: beeswax
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; cotton cloth; polyester cloth and ribbons; synthetic flowers; cotton stitching

The origin of the Boules (Brides) Festival in the town of Naoussa, in Paros, Greece, is obscured by history.  It probably has its origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations of fertility during the spring (Anthestiria). The modern festival is held during Carnival, but its origin was the Turkish occupation of the island of Paros.  The Ottoman Empire controlled Paros from 1537 until 1829.  According to legend, in 1705, the Turks renounced the principle of peaceful coexistence and Turkish soldiers came to the village of Naoussa to recruit forcibly children for their Christian military unit. Those families that resisted were slaughtered.  The following year, around Carnival time, the villagers of Naoussa put on masks and costumes, and paraded in tribute to the dead. To deceive the Turks, the ritual was framed as a wedding, but in reality the bride was a masked man, and the wedding feast was really a means to surreptitiously collect money and food for rebels living in the mountains.

Today, the tradition is still rigorously followed, with masked brides and “janissaries” (Greek soldiers fighting for the Turks) performing specific dances. Only unmarried young males are allowed to masquerade, and all wear the same costume.  In the case of the bride, she wears a black, embroidered skirt, and dark long-sleeved blouse, and a wedding veil. They parade through the town to the music of traditional bands, until they reach the City Hall, and the leader of the boulouki asks permission from the Mayor to begin the ceremony. They then go to the main square, where the dancing begins. After the dances, the boules go from house to house collecting donations.

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TITLE: Basler Carnival Half Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Basel
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Carnival Half-Mask for Fife Player
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: 1990s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; elastic band; hardware; dyed cotton cap

Fasnacht is what the Tyrolean Swiss call Carnival.  In many towns in Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town.  Different towns have variations on the parade, such as the Schemenlaufen of Imst, the Schellerlaufen of Nassereith, and the Muller and Matschgerer of Innsbruck, Austria.

In Basel, Switzerland, masks are almost all made of paper maché and take a helmet form. Armies of costumed clowns, musicians, and dancers, called cliques, parade around town in uniform mask styles for 72 nearly continuous hours on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. The paraders must wear their Larven (masks) throughout the parade and are expected never to remove the mask in order to identify themselves.  They throw confetti at crowd members with such proliferation that it blankets the streets.

Although there is a great deal of innovation and creativity in mask styles, there are certain styles that tend to reappear annually. This mask, known as Waggis, represents a big-nosed, frizzy-haired clown, who wears wooden clogs, a blue shirt, and a red neckerchief. He is a prankster who parodies the Alsatian farmers who formerly came to Basel market days to sell their produce (Waggis literally means a person from Alsace in Basel dialect). Other common characters include the Alti Dante (old aunt), Dummbeeter (trumpetist) and Pierrot (a sad clown from the late Italian Commedia dell’Arte, known for his white and black makeup).

This specific mask was made for and used by a fife player in one of the roaming bands. Half masks are common among wind instrument musicians who need to access their instruments with their mouths.

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TITLE: Mangkornkanth Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Mangkornkanth Demon Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; rhinestones; paint; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the minor demon king Mangkornkanth, the second king of Romkan and a minion of the demon king Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

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TITLE: Emberá Monkey Mask (Child’s)
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Darien
ETHNICITY: Emberá
DESCRIPTION: Capuchin Monkey Mask for Child
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed palm fibers
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Emberá people belong to the Chocó ethnic group along with the Wounaan people inhabit parts of southern Panama and northern Colombia.  They weave remarkable animal spirit masks from the dyed fibers of the black chunga plant (black palm, Astrocaryum standleyanum). Shamans (jaibaná) use these masks in healing and village purification rituals, during which they will be hung from the house posts or worn.

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