Everybody wears a mask at least once in lifetime and so have you. We usually wear a mask in order to hide our identity or our names. If someone wears a mask, their face is covered by the mask. No one will know who the person is. Whoever he is, we don't know his identity at all because of the mask. This is the mask's basic characteristic, which is namelessness. By wearing a mask, a person can get rid of their identity and their name. Only the person who is behind the mask knows who he or she is. So, people do many things by using that feature of mask. Are you wondering what they do? Then, let's figure out everything about masks together!
1. When was the Mask’s First Birthday?
The origin of masks has not been revealed clearly. Thus, we do not know exactly when they were invented or where they came from. However, there are some ideas which lead us to guess the beginning of the mask. Out of these numerous ideas, we will look into the three dominant theories. First, when primitive tribes hunted animals, the mask was used as a tool of camouflage to hide themselves in the ancient age. The second idea raises the possibility that the origin of the mask was to paint the body and face. When ancient people had wars or fights, these paintings threatened enemies and looked scary. Today, we can see some African tribes that have painted their faces and bodies splendidly, backing up this theory. Finally, the last theory is that the mask was made to block evil spirits and represent man's immortality. For example, the shaman of the Tungus tribe made a mask to show the spirits that came to a shaman, the shaman of the Yukaghir tribe made a mask to evade an spirit's eyes at a funeral. Like these, there are various theories which are concerned with divine cultures. Of course, the basis of the origin of the mask is not obvious. Since so many masks have existed during such a long history, we can just guess that there were the stories about old masks. Masks have lived in our history for a long time and are familiar and fascinating.
2. Innumerable Kinds
a. Festivals Must Have Masks!
Masks always have a purpose. Based on their use, the form and color vary infinitely. Sometimes, in this sense, a mask is called 'ten thousand faces'. Above all, the most representative mask is the festival mask. Masks are so popular at festivals that almost all world festivals utilize them. Colorful masks help the atmosphere of a carnival to heighten and make more people excited. For instance, people can enjoy a splendid carnival when they go to Venice with fancy clothes and masks in Italy. There are festivals, costume parades, play performances, and fireworks at the mask festival. Also, the masquerade which prevailed across all of Europe is the same as the mask festival. A Masquerade is not a just party, but is a high-class party where people can dance with masks as part of a European upper class culture. The interesting point is that people do not know who is dancing with them. Without being aware, people enjoy the party with a mask, which makes people feel excited and mystical.
b. The Part of Art, the Mask
In Art area, we can see acting people while wearing beautiful masks. Both mask play and dance use masks as an art form, but dance doesn't use masks so much comparatively. On the other hand, a mask play's mask utilization is frequent and the skill level is very high too. The Chinese traditional mask play, 'Changing Face', amazes audiences by changing masks continually. And the Korean traditional mask play, Talchum, delivers people’s smiles with humor and satire. In the performances such as 'Swan Lake' or 'The Phantom of the Opera', the performances of masks show the character's image and personality by wearing them in the show. For example, there is a main character who wears a white mask on his face in order to hide the terrible face beneath. From the point of view of art, the mask aims at not being only for the purpose of simple decoration but also for visual effect which express a character's feature or uses various techniques. Masks have reached the area of art beyond just being a tool.
c. Scaring and Frightened Masks
Some masks are made to scare other people. In particular, the masks of scary characters of horror movies or monsters frighten us. However, it often provides us with fun thanks to the petty fear. There are many kinds of scary masks, but among them, the psychopathic killer mask in the horror movie, 'Scream (1996)', is known very well. Also, there is a weird, green mask in the movie, 'The Mask', which is popular too. Spending an exciting time with a scary mask with friends is one of the ways to enjoy wearing a mask. However, sometimes people use to wear the mask to do an undue joke. These masks are just for fun, we must not use them when other people are damaged or hate it. Always, a mask's look is the same, but the face behind the mask might frown when you commit malicious behavior.
3. Icon of Symbols
a. Mask of Resistance, Guy Fawkes
We know each mask has its own symbol, and among numerous masks, some masks are so popular and familiar that most people would recognize their meaning very clearly. In particular, the mask which 'V', who is the main character of the movie 'V for Vendetta (2005)', wore was a representative symbol of a mask. This mask originates from the real person, Guy Fawkes. He is the man who was punished by being beheading on the charge of the 'Gunpowder Plot', which was to kill the royal family and members of parliament. To celebrate King's safeness, royal family set off the fireworks and appointed the day. But many people missed his failure, people start to call the day 'Guy Fawkes Day'. Recently, 'Anonymous', a loosely associated international network of activists and hacktivist entities, has been working for the purpose of freedom of speech on the internet and sharing information through a figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. This symbolization gives the group a sense of belonging and announces to people who they are.
b. Justice Masks
If you have the memory of seeing people putting on masks, you must have seen them from movies or cartoons such as superheroes. Heroes always hide who they really are, fight against villains and accomplish justice. Thus, they need the masks and usually, the symbol of the mask has some connection with them. Each hero has their own unique ability and tendency. Thus, if we closely look into the mask, we can find out a hero's personality and features too. For example, 'Spider-man' painted a white web on his mask because he has a spider's web-spinning ability. 'Batman' had a costume and mask which is similar to a bat's shape and colour. In the case of 'Iron-man', the special Iron-man helmet is very famous to the public and represents iron's properties very well. Heroes wear masks, and the masks have something special to help symbolize them. Symbol masks like Guy Fawkes or heroes make people wonder about the face behind the mask and its meanings.
4. The Trendy Mask Show
Just like mentioned above, masks have been used in various ways. And today, it looks like TV shows have fallen in love with masks too, since masks happen to have appeared on our televisions. 'King of Mask Singer', one of the popular entertainment programs, is a show in which competitors wear elaborate masks in order to conceal their identity and remove subsidiary elements other than their singing ability. Challengers compete without the aspects that define them and allow the voter to vote without unprejudice. The other television program that uses masks, 'Beauty & the Beast', shares the story about the love between men and women, wearing ugly masks. Being free from lookism, couples talk about true love. Just like these television programs, a mask is no more than something covering the face. It is now one of the trends and its capacity will evolve as time passes.
5. Masks in Our Mind
Can you believe that there is a mask ’that doesn’t need to be put on your face? In other words, this mask does not have any form, color, or symbol. Hence, this is the kind of mask that cannot be seen with the eyes. In our minds, there exists a mask known as the so called ‘inner mask’. For instance, we could use the SNS profile picture as an example. We used to express ourselves by uploading our face photo or whatever we wanted.
Other than your profile picture, there is another mask too. It is anonymity. Due to this anonymity, people can do whatever they want inside the internet world, protecting their identity from other internet users. This could be a problem for some people who might abuse this function to slander an innocent person or insult others with malicious comments. In this aspect, we can easily witness the inner mask in our daily routines. Someone could also show themselves differently from their normal appearance, in order to gain favor. They could even act like another person for that matter. If there is one thing in common between all of them, we could say that they hide behind the backside of mask, removing their character. We all need to keep in mind that masks have beneficial aspects to us, but at the same time they can be a poison to us.
People have been changing the form, the color and the usage of masks according to the times. The feature to hide an identity however, has not changed. This basic feature will last continually even in the future and it will remain as a strange thing forever. So the next that you’re feeling bored, CAH hopes that you will try on a mask and have some fun!< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >