Behind the Mask of Religious Traditions

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This is totemism , which consolidates family pride and distinguishes social lines. Masks are made to house the totem spirit. The totem ancestor is believed actually to materialize in its mask; thus, masks are of the utmost importance in securing protection and bringing comfort to the totem clan.

The Papuans of New Guinea build mammoth masks called hevehe , attaining 20 feet 6 metres in height. They are constructed of a palm wood armature covered in bark cloth; geometric designs are stitched on with painted cane strips.

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These fantastic human-animal masks are given a frightening aspect. The African totem mask is often carved from ebony or other hard woods, designed with graceful lines and showing a highly polished surface. Animal masks , their features elongated and formalized, are common in western Africa.

Dried grass, woven palm fibres, coconuts, and shells, as well as wood are employed in the masks of New Guinea, New Ireland , and New Caledonia. Represented are fanciful birds, fishes, and animals with distorted or exaggerated features. High priests and healers, or shamans , frequently had their own powerful totems, in whose masks they could exorcise evil spirits, punish enemies, locate game or fish, predict the weather, and, most importantly, cure disease. The Northwest Coast Indians in particular devised mechanical masks with movable parts to reveal a second face—generally a human image.

Believing that the human spirit could take animal form and vice versa, the makers of these masks fused human and bird or other animal into one mask. Some of these articulating masks acted out entire legends as their parts moved. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval.

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Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. The functions and forms of masks Many masks are primarily associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or the curing of sickness.

Previous page The wearing of masks. Page 3 of 5. Next page Funerary and commemorative uses. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: Themes are taken mainly from the Ramayana , the Shiva-purana , the Bhagavata-purana , the Mahabharata , and other religious texts. The superhuman characters represent primal forces of good and evil at war. Because of its terrifying vigour, men play all the roles. Simple dances were almost certainly accompanied by rhythmic percussion sounds and…. There can be little doubt that the same idea blended with imagery from the….

Mask s are used, though they are restricted to the principal dancer and his companions. The male characters are costumed in brilliant stiff brocades and damasks well suited to the grandiose posturing of the actors. The female roles are played in bright flowered brocades.

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Wladyslaw Theodor Benda, Polish American painter, illustrator, and designer. He settled in New York City, becoming a U. More About Mask 34 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References importance of sacred forces In ceremonial object: Figures In ceremonial object: Southwest In Native American art: Belief and aesthetic systems African arts and religion In African religions: Ritual and religious specialists In African dance: The cultural position of dance In African art: Buddhist monastic dance View More. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.

Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. Introduction General characteristics The making of masks The wearing of masks The role of the spectator Meaning and aesthetic response Preservation and collecting The functions and forms of masks Social and religious uses Funerary and commemorative uses Therapeutic uses Festive uses Theatrical uses. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. At the bottom of the article, feel free to list any sources that support your changes, so that we can fully understand their context.

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Comparison and the Primary Cosmology Chapter 6. Kenosis in Buddhist-Christian Dialogue I. Levels of Kenosis II. A Caveat Chapter 7.

Behind the Mask of Religious Traditions

Chinese Philosophy of Human Being I. Sanctification and Salvation II.


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History and Salvation Chapter 8. Individuation in Confucianism and Christianity I. Christianity and Covenant II. Comparisons, Critique, and Construction Chapter 9. Transaction and the Mean II. The Ontological Question Chapter Behind the Masks of God I. Experience and Theory II. Theology and Dialogue Notes Bibliography Index. You Have 0 Item s In Cart. Click on image to enlarge.


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Robert Cummings Neville - Author. Available as a Google eBook for other eReaders and tablet devices. Table of Contents Preface Introduction Chapter 1. Related Titles The Face of Truth. Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion. All Things to All People. Make Me a Man! Eternity and Time's Flow.

The Secret of the Christian Way.

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