The first relationship we have with people is face recognition. Strangers can be quickly accepted as a friend or suspected as a foe – all apparent in their faces and expressions. Since primitive times mankind has developed ability to communicate positivity with eye contact and a smile. It’s all a part of human social survival especially when the language is not understood.
Language has improved communication between ‘tribal’ cultures but social stereotyping is inevitable. Creating and wearing a mask that represents an idea or an entity can be magical or spiritual.
“In many cultures masks are worn in structured dances to symbolize social status, to protect, to exalt, to mock, and to amuse. They transport the wearer through characterization into a world which is otherwise out of reach.”
Paraphrased from Dr. Marion Oettinger
Dancing Faces: Mexican Masks in a Cultural Context
I recently visited the Mask Museum of San Miguel De Allende in Mexico. Bill LeVasseur, is the owner/curator and author of the book ‘Another Face of Mexico’. Bill is a nice guy – passionate about his collection and he has an extensive knowledge of masks and masked dancing. I feel bad that I broke the rules and took some pictures in restricted areas. [After all, where photography is concerned, I am the polite trespasser.]
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