The Masked Fool

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

The Masked Fool

The Fool

My first direct experience ofrepparttar fool in masking was watching Morris Dancing here at home in Yorkshire, England. The Morris dancers were dressed up in their usual dancing shoes with bells and baggy pants. To be absolutely honest I have always found Morris men a bit funny! Perhaps I should explain about Cecil Sharp, no I'll leave that to a footnote.

The Boars Head Morris Men were dancing in a pub car park. ( Pub short for Public House a place for drinking beer etc. inrepparttar 116079 UK.) They were doingrepparttar 116080 usual dances that are related to fertility, good crops and harvests etc. But of course they really don't quite haverepparttar 116081 pagan beliefs off pat. Mind you when you see them drink ale inrepparttar 116082 quantities that they did then you would realise that they had perhaps fully understoodrepparttar 116083 pagan ways of having a good time. ( Not to say all people who followrepparttar 116084 pagan ways drink lots of ale, just a convenient concept )

What you are probably asking by this juncture is this to do with fools?

Wellrepparttar 116085 Boars Head Morris Men had a masked fool. He was complete with boars mask pantaloons and boars headed stick. He also carried a bucket for collecting cash donations for charity, or maybe beer money. He followedrepparttar 116086 dancers mimicked them and cajoledrepparttar 116087 watchers for change to fill his bucket.

Interestingly I knewrepparttar 116088 fool quite well and in real life, with outrepparttar 116089 mask, he would never do what he did withrepparttar 116090 mask. Being English he was just far too polite!

The Boars Head stick became a threatened cudgel, never used, just pointed and waved. The mask was a place to hide behind, for a normal everyday person. As you will find by looking further on this siterepparttar 116091 mask allows people to change personalities. He bullied and pranced and enjoyed his dual mission to collect money and to protectrepparttar 116092 dancers fromrepparttar 116093 crowd. Sometimesrepparttar 116094 children get too close. That is not allowed. Sometimesrepparttar 116095 dancers space is threatened by cars enteringrepparttar 116096 parking space. Wow! That is not a good idea!

But suddenlyrepparttar 116097 fool sets off in pursuit of three attractive women. He rattles his bucket and rounds them up as a sheep dog would. They are pressed into donating generously. He just leaves his dancers unprotected to fend for themselves. The next ten minutes is exchanged in good natured banter. ( The wife ofrepparttar 116098 fool is present! )

The above is from memory, probably about 20 years ago. In terms of mask traditions that is very recent. For mask traditions can be traced back at least 25,000 years. I am certain they go back torepparttar 116099 time ofrepparttar 116100 first questioning peoples; 50,000.................or more years?

What then is this reference to fools and masking traditions. Well as you dig through this site you will find thatrepparttar 116101 fool crops up in several other traditions.

In Masqueraderepparttar 116102 fool is an essential figure. Onrepparttar 116103 surface he, occasionally she, isrepparttar 116104 one who keeps order. He controlsrepparttar 116105 children, he stops their prying eyes invadingrepparttar 116106 dressing room. His stick maintainsrepparttar 116107 performance area. He cracks jokes, entertains, juggles pulls faces and GETS VIOLENT. He chasesrepparttar 116108 children with a whip and hits them mercilessly if he getsrepparttar 116109 chance. He tries to seduce women, and does if he can!

Suddenly he becomes bored and goes away to sit and talk philosophically with a group of friends from his unmasked time. Asrepparttar 116110 conversation progresses he introduces new ideas. He begins to ridiculerepparttar 116111 accepted norm. He questionsrepparttar 116112 accepted reality. He attempts to turns arguments on their heads

The Ubiquitous Fool

The fool is a ubiquitous. The fool occurs inrepparttar 116113 masking traditions of North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, China, ........................ if you know some more please fill in my blank.

Universallyrepparttar 116114 fool treadsrepparttar 116115 line between normality andrepparttar 116116 incongruities thatrepparttar 116117 world. The fool is both sensible and totally none-sensible. Not that he does not use his senses he just uses then in a different way. He questions and cajoles. He jokes and makes fun of others. Yet when someone over stepsrepparttar 116118 arbitrary boundary, (who decided ) he changes. Suddenly he becomesrepparttar 116119 quiet hearth cat,repparttar 116120 sleeping feline, domesticated, sleek and silky. And as you stroke and pleasurerepparttar 116121 cat she begins to become claws and teeth and worse growls. He becomesrepparttar 116122 raging tiger, claws and teeth.

What isrepparttar 116123 role ofrepparttar 116124 fool?

The fool traditionally questions. S/He challengesrepparttar 116125 norm. S/He goes beyondrepparttar 116126 routine and everyday. S/He crossesrepparttar 116127 boundary betweenrepparttar 116128 physical andrepparttar 116129 spiritual. The fool knows both sides but sadly does not understand either. The fool is beyond judgement but is incapable of judging. The fool is a go-between, a hinderer, a creator and destroyer. He sets things up only to break them down.

Central American Masks

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

Central and South America

Central and Southern America have a rich masking history. One ofrepparttar earliest examples dates

from 10000 to 12000 BC. It is a fossilised vertebra of an extinct lama representingrepparttar 116078 head of

a coyote. More recent records begun duringrepparttar 116079 conquest ofrepparttar 116080 area, contemporary excavations

combined with murals byrepparttar 116081 indigenous people reveal an array of styles and uses. Most ofrepparttar 116082

surviving masks are apparently burial masks. Often they are carved from some form of rock or

made form clay. Skull masks, some jade encrusted, have also been excavated. These are believed

to holdrepparttar 116083 spirits of gods or ancestors and when captured from an enemy take away power.

In contrast torepparttar 116084 aboverepparttar 116085 murals and painted vase ofrepparttar 116086 Mayan era show colourful

head-dresses and mask used for a variety of occasions. Masks were not only used for

entertainment and religious purposes but also by warriors. The influx ofrepparttar 116087 conquistadors

causedrepparttar 116088 erosion ofrepparttar 116089 established order andrepparttar 116090 imposition ofrepparttar 116091 catholic church. The

results of this, acrossrepparttar 116092 whole of Central and South America, was a synthesis of Pagan and

Christian celebrations. Despiterepparttar 116093 removal ofrepparttar 116094 ruling eliterepparttar 116095 masking traditions

continued especially where associated with agriculture and fertility. (Muchrepparttar 116096 same as in


The missionaries alarmed atrepparttar 116097 continuing rituals encouragedrepparttar 116098 local people to adapt their

festivals to Christian ones which fell close torepparttar 116099 same time of year. For example inrepparttar 116100 Andes

Intirayami feel close to Carnival. The pre- Hispanic ceremonies forrepparttar 116101 dead in Central America

coincided with All Souls and All Saints. Just as inrepparttar 116102 Andes where ancient temples were built

upon withrepparttar 116103 new churchesrepparttar 116104 traditions of masquerade were embodied with inrepparttar 116105 new

festivals. Interestingly this had already happened as Christianity spread throughout Europe.

Withinrepparttar 116106 second layer of change there was already a similar layer of pre-Christian pagan

practice. The festivals that developed during these times have, in many cases, endured through

torepparttar 116107 present day.

Guatemala and Mexico

The collectors of old masks from this area find that even masks fromrepparttar 116108 last 30 years that

have been used in festivities fetch good prices. Masks from further, back depending upon

quality, can command even higher prices. If you have a contact inrepparttar 116109 area it does help. My

sister lives inrepparttar 116110 area and sometimes helps by giving me great masks. I anticipate paying but


is a brilliant sister. Two good galleries to contact are>>>>>>>>> and>>>>>>.


There are lots of good contemporary makers. I have bought several masks fromrepparttar 116111 mask maker on

the market in Chitchecastenango. I have a story about mask makers in this area especially for

those visiting on a tight budget. When ever visiting an area ofrepparttar 116112 world that is different to

your own it is useful to get as much local knowledge as possible. However sometimes local

knowledge is not enough for something new comes along......

I use this story in my mask making classes to allow people to experience cultural differences.

After a days outing with my sister, Sylvia, her daughter Antonia, my wife Dot and our two sons,

Sam and Adam, visiting various interesting places we stopped in Panahachel. It was early

evening and we were ready to relax before our evening meal, soft drinks and beer were on offer.

We were simply enjoyingrepparttar 116113 evening air,repparttar 116114 time of day and conversation. It had been a good


Suddenly a local man and his son approached use. He was dominant. "Senor do you want to buy

this masks."

Having spent my allowance forrepparttar 116115 day, and having no interest whatsoever inrepparttar 116116 mask I said


The mask was a really low grade tourist mask painted blue and Yellow. It had a snake curling

around its face and two sheep or goats horns nailed to its head.

Thenrepparttar 116117 negotiating started.

"No thank you!" I responded, politely but firmly.

After a time you do get tired of people selling things to us gringos.

He persisted. "Senor, you can have this mask for 30 quetzales."

"No! I responded I have spent my money for today."

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