This is the final selection in the African mask series – at least for the time being!
This mask is the largest in the collection introduced in Faces of Africa (1), and measures 45.5 cm in height. I was particularly intrigued by the two smaller faces in the upper part of the mask.
The animal mask below is also one of the larger masks and measures 37 cm in height.
A few years ago, at an auction sale, I bought a collection of, what I think are, African masks and carvings. They fascinated me although I knew (and still know) nothing of their true ethnic origins. They were bought purely for their decorative properties. It seemed a good idea at the time but I have never found a use for them, nor was I able to raise any interest on ebay! Perhaps their hour has come!
The average height of the originals is around 30cm. Because they are individual items I have ‘created’ backgrounds that I feel to be appropriate and have occasionally adjusted saturation and contrast levels to make details a little more clear. It is my intention to post the resulting images in small groups under the heading Faces from Africa. This post comprises the first selection.
Unfortunately, it has never been my good fortune to be in Venice at Carnival time. The pictures in this post and the previous one were taken several weeks later. But so deeply ingrained are the masks in the ‘Venetian scene’ they remain available in shops throughout the year. The photos were taken through the glass of shop windows – hence, my apologies for the poor quality of the images.
One further point needs to be stressed; the masks are obviously only one part of the costumed appearance. To appreciate their full impact, and their contribution to the Carnival context, please visit one of the many internet sites devoted to the subject.
Click an image to enlarge
Today is the first day of the Venice Carnival. The Carnival is an annual event and takes place during the two weeks prior to the beginning of Lent. The final activities take place on Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras. The festivities are characterised by colour, music, dancing, exotic and period costumes, masked balls, galas, circus entertainments, banquets etc. Venetian authorities estimate that the occasion attracts 3 million visitors every year.
The physical ambience of Venice, with its many canals and unexpected alley ways, supplies magic and mystery to create a fantasy setting.
An essential feature of Carnival is the wearing of masks. Although some derive from comedia del arte traditions, others can be imaginatively original, eccentric, weird or, even, macabre.