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cover or partial cover for the face or head used as a disguise or protection. Masks have been worn from time immemorial throughout the world. They are used by primitive peoples chiefly to impersonate supernatural beings or animals in religious and magical ceremonies. Particularly notable are the masks of W and central Africa; the wooden masks of the Native Americans of NW North America, which sometimes represented totemic animals; the False Face Society of the Iroquois, whose masked dancers were thought to ward off evil spirits; and the gold and turquoise-mosaic masks of Aztec warriors and priests. Masks have always been especially important in drama, and their use has been continued into modern times. They are an integral part of Japanese drama, especially of the No plays, and of Chinese temple dramas (see Asian dramaAsian drama,
dramatic works produced in the East. Of the three major Asian dramas—Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese—the oldest is Sanskrit, although the dates of its origin are uncertain.
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). The many masks used in ancient Greek drama represented the character being portrayed by the actor and were constructed to portray a fixed emotion such as grief or rage. Greek masks had metallic mouthpieces that enhanced the resonance of an actor's voice. The use of masks was preserved in the Roman theater, passed into the early Italian theater, and was a characteristic device of the commedia dell'artecommedia dell'arte
, popular form of comedy employing improvised dialogue and masked characters that flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th cent. Characters of the Commedia Dell'Arte
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. The mask was used in the miracle dramas of the Middle Ages and appeared in the 20th cent. in the works of the German expressionist playwrights and in Eugene O'Neill's plays The Great God Brown and Lazarus Laughed. The making of death masks (reproduction of the face of a dead person) is an ancient practice. Roman death masks were made of wax, and Egyptian death masks of thin gold plate. The modern method first applies oil or grease to the face and next a coat of plaster of paris, which is permitted to harden and is then removed. This procedure results in a mold that is used to cast the mask. Although a similar process was used for life masks, it often proved dangerous to the sitter and unsatisfactory in results. Protective masks include those used by medieval horsemen, gas masks, surgeon's masks, and masks used in certain athletic events. See African artAfrican art,
art created by the peoples south of the Sahara.

The predominant art forms are masks and figures, which were generally used in religious ceremonies. The decorative arts, especially in textiles and in the ornamentation of everyday tools, were a vital art in
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; North American Native artNorth American Native art,
diverse traditional arts of Native North Americans. In recent years Native American arts have become commodities collected and marketed by nonindigenous Americans and Europeans.
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; masquemasque,
courtly form of dramatic spectacle, popular in England in the first half of the 17th cent. The masque developed from the early 16th-century disguising, or mummery, in which disguised guests bearing presents would break into a festival and then join with their hosts in a
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See R. Sieber, Masks as Agents of Social Control (1962); J. Gregor, Masks of the World (1937, repr. 1968); A. Lommel, Masks (tr. 1972), W. Sorrell, The Other Face (1974).


A corbel, the shadow of which bears a close resemblance to that of a human face. It was a favorite ornament under the parapet of a chancel.



an adornment in the form of a human face or animal head. Masks are usually placed on keystones, door and window frames, fountains (with a hole through which the water can flow), furniture, and vessels.



(1) A special covering with an image (such as a human or animal face, or the head of a mythological being), worn over a person’s face. Masks are made from various materials. Masks were first used in the remote past; they were used in hunting and in ceremonies. Later, masks came to be used in various kinds of theatrical presentations—including classical drama, the Indonesian theater, and the Italian commedia dell’arte—as part of the actor’s makeup.

(2) A band of cloth or other material with openings cut out for the eyes and worn over the upper part of the face by participants in carnivals and masquerades.

(3) A cast made of plaster or other material, which bears the imprint of the face of a dead person; a death mask.

(4) In medicine, a device, or part of an apparatus, placed over the face of a patient for the administration of anesthesia by the inhalation of liquid or gaseous narcotic substances.

(5) In cosmetics, one of the means of healing or caring for facial skin.

What does it mean when you dream about a mask?

Wearing a mask in a dream can suggest presenting a false persona to others to protect against ridicule and shame.


(computer science)
A pattern of characters used to control the retention or elimination of portions of another pattern of characters. Also known as extractor.
(design engineering)
A frame used in front of a television picture tube to conceal the rounded edges of the screen.
A thin sheet of metal or other material containing an open pattern, used to shield selected portions of a semiconductor or other surface during a deposition process.
A protective covering for the face or head in the form of a wire screen, a metal shield, or a respirator.
(graphic arts)
In color separation photography, an intermediate negative or positive that is used to correct color.
In offset lithography, opaque material that protectively covers open or selected areas of a printing plate during the exposure process.
A protective device in thermal spraying against blasting or coating effects which are reflected from the substrate surface.

mascaron, mask

The representation of a face, a human or partly human head, more or less caricatured, used as an architectural ornament.


a disguise; hence, symbol of deception. [Art: Hall, 204]
See: Deceit


, mask
1. a dramatic entertainment of the 16th to 17th centuries in England, consisting of pantomime, dancing, dialogue, and song, often performed at court
2. the words and music written for a masque


(1) A pattern used to transfer a design onto an object. See photomask.

(2) A pattern of bits used to accept or reject bit patterns in another set of data. For example, the Boolean AND operation can be used to match a mask of 0s and 1s with a string of data bits. When a 1 occurs in both the mask and the data, the resulting bit will contain a 1 in that position.

Hardware interrupts are often enabled and disabled in this manner with each interrupt assigned a bit position in a mask register.


Masks may represent our persona and how we appear to others, the roles that we play in life such as parent, student, or worker. On the other hand, masks can be a symbol of pretentiousness. If you are wearing a mask, look inside and check if you are being sincere in your presentations, or if you are hiding something and pretending to be something you are not. If other people are wearing masks, it suggests that you may be concerned about their genuineness.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Hahoe masks were originally comprised of 12 masks, of which only 9 remain.
There are different kinds of sheet masks to address various skin concerns.
Today, sheet masks come in many reinvented forms that hope to hydrate better than before.
That said, there are a ton of creepy, funny and culturally relevant Halloween masks available now, some of which are already on sale.
There are now a plethora of options from clay masks, rubber masks and sheet masks to splash masks and even spray-on masks.
Die cut masks can also be produced with features to ensure the masks are aligned correctly.
Engineering a much-needed revolution in protective masks
Nepal was a country I became very interested in after I saw several ceremonial masks while browsing art online.
Studies that have compared the effects of facial and non-facial masks (that is, masks that do not contain face stimuli) or of masks that contain different levels of facial information, have shown that the presence of facial information in the mask is crucial to produce significant masking in face identification (Costen, Shepherd, Ellis, & Craw, 1994; Loffler, Gordon, Wilkinson, Goren, & Wilson, 2005).
Clay masks can decongest by drawing out impurities, gel hydration masks can add a thick layer of moisture that the skin can absorb, and masks with 'tighteners' literally create a film which gives instant lift - not longlasting but good for a quick fix.
We also wanted a design that would fit the face better and discourage health care workers from dangling masks around their necks, which was a concern of infection control practitioners.
A WARWICKSHIRE mask-making firm has scored itself a new contract win after being inundated with orders for Roy Hodgson masks.