Over the past couple of years, we have all been getting used to wearing and seeing masks everywhere. Masks are becoming a constant in our lives – no matter how we feel about them. Face masks aren’t as abnormal as some make them out to be, though. Throughout history, masks have been used regularly for a variety of reasons. As today is Mardi Gras, let’s start there…
Many times, when we think of Mardi Gras, we imagine people walking around outside, all wearing masks. The masks for Mardi Gras began so that people could mingle without worrying about society or class restraints. People could talk with, buy from, and sell to others while escaping the restrictions of societal norms. This has been going on for hundreds of years, since Mardi Gras in the U.S. began in 1703. Today, many people still wear masks during the celebration; masks are even legally required for those on Mardi Gras floats!
But let’s take a look back even further at the purpose of masks. One of the most famous types of masks was that used by doctors in the Middle Ages during the bubonic plague (AKA the Black Death). While the bubonic plague was actually transmitted via fleas, doctors at the time thought it to be air-borne, so they used face masks to try and protect themselves. But face masks can be traced even further back to ancient Greece. Not only were they used in the medical field, but masks were also popular during theater. Shakespeare also utilized masks often for the actors in his performances.
Even further back than that, masks have been found in ancient funerary rituals. Egyptian pharaohs were often buried with face masks, as well as Incans and ancient Romans. Masks were used to commemorate the dead and sometimes help connect them with the spiritual world. They were also used to protect the dead from dangerous spirits. Masks used to ward off evil have also been used by many cultures in Day of the Dead / All Hallow’s Eve celebrations.
From portraying others to keeping away evil spirits to protection from disease, masks have been a constant throughout the history of mankind. And if you’re looking for a mask of any type, we’ve got you “covered!”