Mask information collected by June Bailey Brief History of Masks1


Left: Italian Pucinella mask with painted hat Right



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Left: Italian Pucinella mask with painted hat
Right: Venetian Feathered Colombine mask


Festival Masks5

Festival mask were made from stiffened linen according to Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England, by Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter, papier-mâché is not often seen as a mask-making material until the 16th century. Mask materials that would have been used during the Middle Ages included wood, leather, plaster, canvas, and linen. Cauls (netting) were also worn over the face as masks.


Wassailing and Mask wearing while doing so6

Henry VII had problems with it, Mumming is also an ancient pagan custom that was an excuse for people to have a party at Christmas! It means 'making diversion in disguise'. The tradition was that men and women would swap clothes, put on masks and go visiting their neighbors, singing, dancing or putting on a play with a silly plot.


Mummings and Disguising: development of these into the Masque7

Probably the oldest and simplest form of what is involved to the masque, called "a mumming" and the performers are "mummers." The word means that the disguised performers say nothing that would betray their identity. They dice in silence, using only dumb show where they wish to signify their meaning. But they are all disguised with wizards, the old word for mask; they are accompanied by musicians; they dance together among themselves when their "mumming" business is over and torchbearers conduct them on their way. Party goers of masqueraders would disguise themselves in masks after the manner of the ancient Romans in the Saturnalia. Christmas was the grand scene of mumming, and some mummers were disguised like bears, others like unicorns, bringing presents. Those who could not procure masks rubbed their faces with soot, or painted them. In the Christmas mummeries the chief aim was to surprise by the oddity of the masks and the singularity and splendor of the dresses. Everything was out of nature and propriety. They were often attended with an exhibition of gorgeous machinery. Besides the set and formal mummings, the members, guests, and servants of a household would put on masks, and, thus disguised, practice rude jests on one another. 8


The Functions and Forms of Masks9

In the Middle Ages, masks were used in the mystery plays of the 12th to the 16th century. In plays dramatizing portions of the Old and New Testaments, grotesques of all sorts, such as devils, demons, dragons, and personifications of the seven deadly sins, were brought to stage life by the use of masks. Constructed of papier-mâché, the masks of the mystery plays were evidently marvels of ingenuity and craftsmanship, being made to articulate and to belch fire and smoke from hidden contrivances. But again, no reliable pictorial record has survived. Masks used in connection with present-day carnivals and Mardi Gras and those of folk demons and characters still used by central European peasants.



Lupo was the name of a kind of mask usually in black. Its use was in relation to the Renaissance woman’s social life, which was more and more active. This mask prevented the ladies from suntan as they considered that the moon whiteness of their hands and face was a symbol of aristocratic beauty. This mask had different social purposes such as hiding the ladies ´face to protect themselves from indiscreet glances in their secret adventures
Bauta Apparently, the sound "Bau Bau”, which scares children, gave rise to its name ("Bauta"). Everybody used to bear this mask in Venice, even the Duke when wandering around the city. Bearing masks was obligatory for the nobility - men and women - in public places to cut down luxury and prevent the upper social classes from being outraged when they mixed with the bourgeoisie






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