The history and magic of the culture of decorative masks in the world

History and Culture

Throughout history, men of different ethnicities have used masks for different purposes, according to their religion and culture. They believed that masks provided access to invisible spiritual universes governed by imagination. Storytellers used masks to convey their narratives, bringing them to life. They were also used in religious rituals , dances , parties and various ceremonies .

traditional-decorative-wall masks
Masks being used in ceremonies around the world. Photos: Reproduction

African masks

Africa has thousands of distinct tribes and ethnicities laden with beliefs, art, culture and symbolism. Generally, his African masks represent distorted , exaggerated faces that transcend the earthly plane (they do not represent human faces), they convey a connection with the divine, the supernatural. They are linked to religious rituals and ceremonies , war, land fertility, initiation, purification, funerals and even entertainment.

African ceremonies and dances with masks. Photos: Reproduction

It is not just any member of the community who can sculpt masks in an African society. They believe that the artist is not an individual being, but a way for the collective to speak through their hands. It is up to him to interpret the collective values ​​and transmit them in his work. To establish purification and connection with the sacred entity, they are modeled in secret in the jungle and are made of wood, as for Africans trees are the guardians of magical powers.

Masks carry a lot of tradition in Africa. Photos: Reproduction

bali masks

The small island of Bali, located in the southern center of the Indonesian archipelago, is a kind of paradise for masks that are strongly linked to local tradition, as Bali is known for populating dozens of spiritual entities, each of which has its own representative mask ( Barong , Garuda , Rangda and others). Despite this immense range of entities, the Balinese claim that their religion is monotheistic and use the innovative and creative argument that their God takes as many forms as the rays of the sun. They consider that masks made from the same tree have a family connection. The production techniques of the island's artisans have improved over the years.

Masks sold in Bali. Photo: reproduction

Himalayan Masks

The masks of Tibet and Nepal are one of the symbols that best represent the people who live in the Himalayan region. The powerful and traditional style of Himalayan Masks is drawn from the diverse cultures present: Shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism and local village myths. Taking into account the polytheistic nature of both traditions, the deities represented by the masks are diverse: Shiva, Bhairava, Ganesh, Mahakala, Garuda , Varahi and Thordev are the most famous.

All masks in the region have the mark of the third eye on the forehead . The style is characterized by crowns of skulls, earrings, details in metals such as silver, bronze and brass, among other colorful elements. They are made of wood covered in clay and linen to delay aging. These decorative details not only reflect religious and symbolic aspects, but also add powerful imagery and a peculiar and fascinating look.

Himalayan masks (Nepal and Tibet). Photo: reproduction

Masks around the World

In Ancient Egypt, for example, masks filled with precious stones were used on mummies before burial. The masks of the Eskimos in Alaska were made with two faces, one human and the other animal, as they attributed a double existence to each creature.

In ancient Greece and Rome they used masks for festivals and theaters. This is where the use of masks for artistic and entertainment purposes emerged. In Asia, masks were used for religious ceremonies and for social functions such as weddings, festivals and entertainment. The Brazilian native people wore masks symbolizing animals in their ceremonies. Currently they are widely used in carnivals.

Masks around the world (Venice, Greece, Alaska and Brazil). Photos: Reproduction

Masks in the World of Decoration

The creativity used in the process of making masks highlights aspects of human nature, as they do not result in simple handcrafted and decorative objects, but rather in objects that question our nature: divinity, the beautiful, the grotesque, the caricature, the surprising. Masks arouse fascination in everyone because they are ritualistic, primitive objects and go back to the history of the formation of artistic and creative man. Today, we still haven't revealed the mystery behind them, we've just noticed their fascinating aura and wealth of imagery possibilities. The masks have an energy, attitude, a body, in short, they have a life of their own.

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Wall masks for interior decoration. Photos: Reproduction

That is why the search for masks for decoration has become a worldwide trend. Many became collectors and transformed their home environments into a true art gallery with a lot of personality and cultural values.

Collections of masks bring a lot of personality to the environment. Photos: Reproduction

Where to buy

Decorative masks can be purchased all over the world, but in Brazil the best place to buy decorative masks is at the arts and decorations store Arte & Tune , the best that you don't even need to leave your home, we deliver nationwide. Our story also began with masks , selling some models, this strengthens our belief in their magic, today we are a store specializing in the acquisition and sale of decorative masks . Visit our virtual store and buy a variety of arts from different countries, sizes and styles.

carved wood bali mask

I'm sure you felt like starting your collection. I hope the article was useful, I believe that all knowledge is welcome. If you have any questions about the subject or want access to an exclusive photo gallery, fill out the form below and leave your comment.


Thank you for your attention, come back often!

Thiago Quiqueto MorenoColumnist Blog Arte & Tune

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