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MASKS: Edges of Traditions

Today putting on mask we protect ourselves of surrounding persons. It helps us to construct the border between the world of humans and the dangerous world of bacteria.

Authors of project

V.N.Kuznetzova, Ph. D. In history, Research Fellow of the Department of Ethnography of Russian People Н.Н.Прокопьева, 

N.N.Prokopieva, Deputy Director on accounting, keeping and restoration of museum exhibits

I. Yu. Hurgina .Head of the Department of Scientific Systematization and Editing Activity  

Today putting on mask we protect ourselves of surrounding persons. It helps us to construct the border between the world of humans and the dangerous world of bacteria.

In historical perspective the mask is always something more than an object covering a face. According to traditional worldview, often putting a mask man not simply changed his appearance but transformed in the represented personage.

In traditional culture of the peoples of Eurasia as a rule, ritual transformations with help of masks were related to calendar festivals and rites of life circle. Masks were made of different materials and represented animal heads, human faces or mythical beings. The simplest ones were made of a piece of textile, leather or paper with slots for eyes, nose and mouth. Among the peoples of Caucasus the felt masks were widespread, skillfully carved wooden masks were used among Russians and Lithuanians.  In whole transformation into zoomorphic, anthropomorphic beings and creatures from the other world with help of a mask, a  skin, a fur coat put inside-out reflected notions about the supernatural powers and necessity of contact with them.

Particular place masks had in shamanistic practice. Masks  allowed a shaman to  travel  across the Universe remaining unrecognized for the evil forces in mundane time, Other masks  helped  shaman  to receive  productive force, to  scare evil spirits and fight with them for curing of a patient.

May be, hiding our faces under masks in this difficult times we  can feel our involvement in traditional culture of the peoples of Eurasia.

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