Chinese Masks Essay

Chinese masks first appeared in China some 3,500 years ago primarily used for Chinese shamanism. Chinese masks became an age old cultural phenomenon shared by all ethnic groups in China. The Chinese developed such masks to overcome disasters and to protect their lives. These masks were given many functions like, communicating with the gods, bringing blessings, driving away ghosts, warding off diseases, and lots of sacrificial rituals involving masks were regularly held. Many traditional ceremonies held in China involved the use of masks, for example masks are worn during elaborate Chinese New Year celebrations.

In addition masks were used for other festive occasions like, religious ceremonies, the birth of children, keeping one’s home safe, and masks for theatrical performances as well. Some of the most popular masks like the Dragon mask represent good fortune and prosperity. This mask is an important part of Chinese heritage and no Chinese New Years celebration is without it. Another type of mask in the Chinese culture is the modern Chinese Opera mask which are either painted on or worn as a thin cloth mask.

The tradition of facial make up started from totems created centuries ago.

Chinese mask are made of numerous materials like stones and metals, leather and cloth, wood and clay, ceramics and glass, paper and grass, . Then they are painted with many different color themes and designs. The masks were either worn or displayed. Some masks may represent animal or human characteristics like the lion or dragon. Red is also a very popular color and seen in many celebrations. Even in modern day Chinese cultural and around the world many people use Chinese masks because they portray a high cultural and artistic value.

They are used today in Operas to depict the personality of the character, and also used as decoration. Their beauty is highly regarding with incredible detail, and colorful designs. I chose Chinese masks because of my interest in the Asian culture along with the fact that they are beautiful to look at, and the thought of actually making one is very exciting. Bibliography Patricia Buckley Ebrey. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge Illustrated Histories: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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