Mask of the Week

I just realised I forgot to do a mask on Saturday. I’ve now done over six month’s worth and I’m about to go away for a few weeks, so it may be a convenient time to drw a line under the feature. I’ll see how I feel when I get back. In the meantime, this is the 3M™ High Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask:

“These surgical masks meet ASTM highest level of fluid resistance (160 mm Hg), to help reduce exposure of the wearer to blood and body fluids, large particle droplets and aerosolized fluids.”

Mask of the Week

A few weeks ago I posted the mummy mask of Satdjehuty, a very glamorous and stylised Egyptian mask from about 1400 BC. To give some indication of the incredible continuity of Ancient Egyptian culture, here’s the mummy mask of Pachons, from 1600 years later in Roman Egypt:

That’s also from the British Museum. here’s what they have to say about it:

Excavations in the later layers of debris over the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari have revealed that part of the area was used as a cemetery in the middle Roman period. A small number of the mummies found were adorned with masks. On the basis of the style of their hair and dress, they have been dated to the third century AD. They presumably belonged to people of high status, as the area of Deir el-Bahari was, and still is, a holy one.

The owner of this mask, Pachons, son of Psesarmese, is portrayed wearing a long-sleeved cream-coloured tunic. Around his head is decoration in yellow, in imitation of gold. In his hands he carries a pot and a small garland of orange flowers. The panel at the bottom shows a representation of Sokar, the god of the Memphite necropolis (cemetery).

There are remains of pieces of plaited linen which either attached the mask to the mummy or attached a wooden label, which bore the name of the deceased.

Mask of the Week

This is a Cajun Mardi Gras mask from Tee Mamou, in Louisiana, made by Suson Launey.

So is this.

You can read more about the Acadian Mardi Gras tradition here, read about Launey here, and see a couple more of her masks here.

Mask of the Week

Since I went to look at the mummies this week, it seems a good time to post the mummy mask of Satdjehuty:

It’s from the Eighteenth Dynasty, which is apparently ‘about 1550-1295 BC’. I’m not sure how to post permalinks to the BM collections, but if you go to their Compass site and search for Satdjehuty, you can see details and other views.

It probably originally consisted of at least a coffin, the mummy, a heart scarab, this mummy mask and a quantity of linen. Only the mask and linen are in the British Museum.

We learn from the mass of linen that it was given to Satdjehuty ‘in the favour of the god’s wife, king’s wife, and king’s mother Ahmose-Nefertari’. Ahmose-Nefertari was the wife of Ahmose I (1550-1525 BC), the first king of the Dynasty, and the mother of Amenhotep I (1525-1504 BC), with whom she subsequently became associated as local deities. That Satdjehuty should have received such an honour shows she was a lady of the highest rank.

The winged head-dress on this mask is a feature found on funerary headpieces and coffins in the Second Intermediate Period (about 1750-1650 BC), and perhaps denotes protection of the deceased by a deity.

Mask of the Week

The mask of ‘Lady Clapham’, from the V&A:

To quote the museum’s own blurb:

This mask was made for a doll, known as Lady Clapham, that is thought to have belonged to the Cockerell family, descendants of the diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703). The daughter of Pepys’s nephew John Jackson (the son of his sister Pauline) married a Cockerell, who had a family home in Clapham, south London.

Lady Clapham offers a fine example of both formal and informal dress for a wealthy woman in the 1690s. Her formal outfit includes a mantua (gown) and petticoat, while her informal dress is represented by the nightgown (a dressing gown rather than a garment worn to bed) and petticoat. Accessories such as the stockings, cap and chemise (a body garment) are very valuable since very few items from such an early period survive in museum collections. Equally important is the demonstration of how these clothes were worn together.

Here’s the reverse:

Mask of the Week

More from the BM, because they’ve got so much good stuff. This time a mask of Dzoonokwa:

Kwakwaka’wakw, 19th century AD, from British Columbia

Dzoonokwa is a giant of the forest, or Wild Woman of the Woods. She eats children, stops people from fishing, and encourages war. In one story a young woman comes across a Dzoonokwa catching salmon; she kills her and her family and uses the mother’s skull as a bath for her own daughter’s ritual empowerment. They were not all evil though; when a Dzoonokwa came across young men she may give them supernatural gifts – a self-paddling canoe, or the water of life.

Kwakwaka’wakw masks represent her with pursed lips so that the dancer wearing the mask could frighten the crowd with cries of ‘Ho, ho’.

Mask of the Week

Another one from the BM, this from the Chewa people:

What they have to say:

This mask depicts a royal escort who accompanied Queen Elizabeth on an official visit to Malawi in 1979. He was described as ‘tall, heavy, a big man with a moustache and quite handsome’. His image was recreated two weeks later by a mask-maker who had watched the Queen’s arrival at the airport. The mask is made of wood painted pale pink. It has striking eyebrows and a moustache of synthetic fur. It would have been worn with a full length costume made of composite materials.

Simoni masks represent the youngest son of the chief and are often associated with foreigners, especially from the colonial period. They have either red or flesh-coloured painted faces and their dances suggest power and authority. Simoni is seen as intelligent and successful, but also shrewd and dangerous.

Mask of the Week

From the British Museum site, which is a goldmine of fabulous images, the death mask of Oliver Cromwell:

The BM’s blurb seems worth quoting in full.

When a famous person died, a death mask was often taken as a permanent and precise record of the way they looked. An initial cast provided a mould from which subsequent plaster or wax death masks could be taken. Death masks were widely distributed through private and public collections and were also used as models for posthumous portraits, whether painted or sculpted. This example was originally owned by Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) whose collection contributed to the founding of the British Museum in 1753.

It was important that a death mask was made as soon as possible after death so that the character of the deceased was captured before the features started to fall. The death mask of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was taken after the embalmment of his body and it shows the cloth bound around his head to cover the cincture. The face has a beardlet and moustache, but Cromwell’s famous wart has either been pared off or has disappeared due to the action of the embalming fluid. Several casts of Cromwell’s death masks exist. Although the identification of this example has been questioned, it certainly entered the Museum as a representation of Cromwell. Cromwell was initially buried in Westminster Abbey but his body was exhumed after the Restoration and hung on Tyburn gallows and his head was displayed on a pole. Apparently, his head was later sold many times until it came into the possession of the Wilkinson family in the nineteenth century. It was finally buried in a Cambridge college in the 1960s.

Mask of the Week

Busó costumes:

Busó is apparently a festival to mark the start of spring in Mohács, a town in Hungary.

“According to the oral tradition, the Busó who crossed the river on boats chased the Turkish away from the area of Mohács in 1687. This has never been proven but possible since it is well known that the Turkish are very suspicious and the frightening Busós looked like the devil especially when the Turkish saw an army of them. According to traditions, the Turkish fled in panic when they saw the horrible army.”

Mask of the Week

The character Xue Gang from the Chinese opera. From the surprisingly eclectic site of Paul and Bernice Noll. These ‘masks’ are done with face paints.

“A dictum familiar to most Peking opera fans, “No red for the three Gangs,” illustrates how colors represent human character. The three Gangs (Li Gang, Yao Gang, and Xue Gang) were bold and obstinate, but in Peking operas they are portrayed as solemn and serious, so no red is allowed in their facial make-up, not even on their lips, and no pink powder (which symbolizes humor) is applied to their cheeks. By contrast, in operas adapted from the Romance of the Yang Family the cheeks of the two characters Meng Liang and Jiao Zan are powdered pink because these two men are humorous by nature. In Hongyang Cave, however, the two no longer have pink cheeks, for this opera portrays them as old people whose temperaments have changed.”

Mask of the Week

I decided to look for something seasonal and came up with this, from Where’s Cherie?:

“Greg with the Santa “Mola” mask and his reindeer finger-puppet. (Whenever Greg donned this mask the Kuna children would scream: “Santa! Santa!”)”

Thanks to Google, I now know that a ‘mola’ is a blouse worn by the Kuna women of the San Blas archipelago, off the coast of Panama, which has decorative panels on the front and back made of reverse appliqué. Or possibly the ‘mola’ is just the appliqué panel; it’s not clear. You can see a Santa Claus mola here. The masks are made for the tourist trade – you can see more of them here.

Or, if you’re in a more bah humbuggy kind of mood, there’s always ‘Santa Claus removing the mask of Death’ (which has an unexpected poetry connection).

Mask of the Week

The Marquardt Beauty Analysis mask.

According to the MBA mission statement:

MBA is dedicated to proactively researching human visual aesthetics, including its biological and mathematical bases, and to utilizing the results of that research to develop and provide information and technology with which to analyze and positively modify (i.e. improve) human visual attractiveness.
MBA believes that this information and technology can empower individuals within our species to have a greater and more clear understanding of human attractiveness and its role in our behaviour. Further we believe that this understanding can and will give each of us a more positive control over human attractiveness and ultimately over our own lives and fate.

Well, if nothing else, they’ve successfully demonstrated that people look better without lots of black lines drawn on their faces. You need to look at the ‘our research’ section to get the full glory of the MBA system. I will exercise great restraint and simply say that I find the theoretical underpinnings unconvincing.

Mask of the Week

A mask from the Tsam (or Cham) ceremony, a masked dance designed to exorcise evil. The ceremony was held all across the Himalayas, but has been nearly eliminated by the combination of Chinese communism and Western influence. This is from Mongolia.

via Golf Mongolia