Mask, A face covering that, in ritual and theater, disguises the wearer and usually communicates an alternate identity; also a type of portrait, and a protective screen for the face. Roman Mask Mexican Mask Egyptian Mask
Since at least Paleolithic times people have used masks. Made of wood, basketry, bark, corn husks, cloth, leather, skulls, papier-mâché, and other materials, masks may cover the face, the entire head, or the head and shoulders, and they are sometimes considered part of an accompanying costume.
Occasionally, a mask is not intended to be worn on the face, for example, the enormous ritual masks of Oceania and the tiny fingertip masks of Inuit women. The making of masks is a primary artistic outlet in many cultures, and masks from Africa, Oceania, and the Native American cultures of North America are highly prized by art collectors.
Masks are often believed to contain great power, being potentially dangerous unless handled properly.
Shamans throughout the world wear masks in curative rites. In East Asia and Sri Lanka, masks may be worn to protect the wearer against (or to cure) diseases such as measles and cholera. In some cultures, masked members of secret societies (such as the duk-duk of New Guinea) terrorize wrongdoers and thus enforce social codes. In parts of Africa, legal judgments are pronounced by masked judges; a historical European analogue is the masked executioner.
Ancient Greek drama was semi-religious, rooted in masked ritual. The masks worn by actors in Greek plays were large, with conventionalized features and exaggerated expressions; the wide mouth of the mask contained a brass megaphone to help project the actor's voice to the large audiences. These masks fell into two general categories, tragic and comic, with many variations for both types. In Rome, masks were used in comedy and by pantomimists.
Strictly practical protective masks are worn in baseball, hockey, and other sports. The faceplates of medieval European armor, however, occasionally bore grimacing facial features, and in ancient Roman tournaments soldiers often wore symbolically decorated masks on their helmets.