Continued from page 1
Not Carnival masks but foundation of traditions spreading throughout World.
I have covered a great deal in a very short space. And maybe bitten off more than I can realistically substantiate. Every time I read about background to masking, asque and Masquerade I find that these factors stand out. The links between traditions in all parts of world hold common elements. If we accept our common ancestry then it makes sense.
Simply it comes down to this. When you find that there are similar elements behind masking traditions in Africa and North America then we have to accept that there is a common influence in play. (It could of course be interpretation of academics who have influenced my studies with their own agendas.) These same structures of; reverie of ancestors, links with dead, seasons of harvest, growth and planting, fertility, good and evil all crop up time after time. In many cases they are linked further by some kind of Fool taking part in enactment.
What really fascinates me is that these links are embedded in our modern cultures through masquerade, carnival and other traditions such as Halloween and Day of Dead celebrations.
Amazingly these European traditions, superstitions, and links to ancient practices, have passed into other cultures in South, Central and North America plus of course Caribbean. How has this happened?
The European conquerors took their traditions of festivals to Americas. These festivals embodied elements of earlier pre Christian times. The settlers changed local festivals to embody Christian elements. So that when today we view masquerade and Carnival it is possible to recognise Mayan or Inca festivals on which they were based. Christian celebrations introduced by Conquistadors and other settlers are a mixture of elements. When addition of African influence is added to Carnival. An interesting picture can be seen.
Carnival masks are, in my opinion, related back to earliest of times.
For me it is a circle. A circle of belief based upom prehistoric understanding that underpin our fundamental nature as people. Our prehistoric mystical belief system from past are now amalgamated on all continents. Probably some people who participate in these festivals understand their true nature. Our present position is to use this understanding of our common ancestry to build a forward looking route to future. All this from looking at masks.
Your thoughts and feelings upon this would be most welcome.
© Ian Bracegirdle 2004 1 Elderberry Close East Morton BD20 5WA UK 01535 692207 http://mask-and-more-masks.com You may use this article freely on condition that you include this copyright line and URL and that people who subsequently use this article follow same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.
Teacher, Course Leader, mask enthuisiast and collector.