Ritual Mask

Mask, Ritual


a mask worn in various ceremonies (religious and magical dances). Ritual masks have been widely used since ancient times among many tribes and peoples of the world (in Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Oceania). Made of bark, wood, grass, skin, cloth, bone, and other materials, they depict human faces, animal heads, or the heads of fantastic and mythological creatures. One type of ritual mask covers the entire head.

The use of ritual masks is associated with the worship of ancestors, spirits, and animals, as well as with totemistic concepts. The wearer acts as if he were transformed into the creature depicted by the mask. Ritual masks have often been used by secret societies (for example, among the peoples of Melanesia, Africa, and America) and are used during the initiation of youths into manhood, raids, and the administering of justice. Ritual masks made of cloth and birch bark were formerly worn among a number of Siberian peoples, including the Shortsy, Buriats, and Nentsy, during certain types of shamanistic ceremonies; they were also worn among the Khanty and Mansi, during ceremonies after the killing of a bear.


Avdeev, A. D. “Maska: Opyt tipologicheskoi klassifikatsii po etnograficheskim materialam.” In Sbornik Muzeia antropologii i etnografii, Moscow-Leningrad, 1957, no. 17; 1960, no. 19.
References in periodicals archive ?
This small piece also foregrounds one half of a figure's face, the stylistic details of which is also redolent of the ritual mask or the totem.
Barnes (Paul Stevens), a psychiatrist who finds himself in an eerie Freudian dreamworld whenever he puts on an ancient Indian ritual mask.
Other than the ritual masks, you may also find wood carving designs.
Architecture, painting, bronze figures, pottery, ritual masks, handmade rice papers, dyeing and printing are the various art and craft forms of Nepal.
African ritual masks also take precedence on the stand of Brussels gallery Serge Schoffel, which presents its collection of Bete masks originating from the Ivory Coast.
Pick up carved wooden tables, or choktses, carpets, thangkas and ritual masks that are a brilliant riot of colours at the government-run Institute of Cottage Industries, where over a 100 students can be seen perfecting their craft.
From unique mask and costume rental organizations to folk deities, ritual masks, figures, and celebrations, Guatemala's Masks & Drama brings the reader right into the culture and traditions of the country.
1) The ritual masks of Korea, originally used to pray for abundant harvests and to expel evil spirits, slowly evolved into masks used in artistic performances.
In 1997 a federal court in New Mexico sentenced Arizona dealer Rodney Tidwell to 33 months in prison for selling Acoma priest robes and Hopi ritual masks.
Everything that could be carried out has disappeared from the museum - gold bowls and drinking cups, ritual masks worn in funerals, elaborate head-dresses, lyres studded with jewels - priceless craftsmanship from ancient Mesopotamia.
Other African artefacts fetching handsome prices are ritual masks from such Central and West African countries as the DRC, Burkina Faso and Benin, and ethnic adornments from North-western Africa.