Guide to Greek Masks
Greek masks have been used for centuries beginning with ancient Greek theater. The first theater writer who incorporated masks into his productions was Thespis. There were a limited number of actors so each actor would change characters in the play simply by putting on a different mask and costume. Women had very little rights in ancient Greek times. They were not allowed to participate in the plays. In fact, women in this time were not permitted to participate in public life much at all, with the exception of weddings, funerals and religious festivals. Their primary function or role in life was to care for the home and children. The men, typically pre-pubescent males, would play female roles in ancient Greek plays. Theatrical masks were a significant contribution made by the ancient Greeks. The entire world has benefited from this contribution, namely the world of theater arts.
Religion and Ritual
- The Festivals honoring Dionysos: The festivals were overseen by the highest official of the state at the time called the archon eponymous.
- The Festival of Anthesteria: This is a festival honoring Dionysos and Hermes.
- The Greater Dionysia in Athens: Fifty men would dance around the altar of Dionysos in his honor. This festival included jousting matches, theater, and processions.
- Agrionia Festival: Meaning emergence from the divine, this was meant to be Dionysos rising from the underworld.
- Greek Mythology and Dionyssos: Ancient Greek masks can be traced by to theater and the reenactment of these stories. Much of these stories surround Dionyssos.
- The Ancient Dionysian Cult: Many stories and plays were written and used surrounding the ancient cult of Dionyssos. Ancient Greek masks were a very integral part of the culture during this period
- Greek Gods: Greek masks originating from theater were used to represent the Greek gods.
- Greek God Mask Replicas: Marble replications of the original Greek god masks.
- The Acoustical Mask of Greek Theater: The masks used by the ancient Greek actors were very small, generally a little bigger than the size of a person’s head. They were built with the sound acoustics of the performer in mind.
- Ancient Greek Theater: The iconic symbol of the comedy and tragedy masks represents Greek theater.
- A Typical Greek Mask of the Bearded Father of Comedy: A picture of a very common mask used in Greek theater from the Greco-Roman East period from approximately the first century B.C. to the first century A.D.
- Masks in Ancient Greek Theater: Pictures of four different types of ancient Greek masks used in theater. These types of masks were generally made out of leather, linen or wood and had human or animal hair attached.
- Theatrical Greek Masks of Warriors, Comedians and Philosophers: Pictures of seven different types of ancient Greek masks.
- Theater of Dionysia: The Greek theater of Dionysia was used during the ancient festivals honoring the god of wine. During these performances, the actors would wear large elaborate masks.
- Ancient Greek Chorus Masks: The chorus was a part of the theater productions most times and they would all wear the same type masks although they were different from the actors.
- Greek Theater: The famed Acropolis in Athens was constructed to house 15,000 people for the plays that were a common part of their society.
- Creation of Ancient Greek Masks: Picture of artisan creating a Greek mask for ancient Greek theater complete by the hand painting of each face.
- Depiction of Greek Theater Complete with Masks: A picture showing how masks complete the theatrical costuming in the Greek plays.
How They Were Made
- The Construction of Ancient Greek Masks: The masks were originally constructed out of a clay mold.
- History of Mask Making: Dramatic effect was added to Greek masks by exaggerating the expression of the mouth which was typically wide open. There were also large holes for eyes constructed.
- Mycenaean Grave Masks: These masks were made as a death gift and typically made from gold.
- Oedipus the King: No ancient theatrical masks have survived time. Some of these masks were documented as being made of cork, linen, and wood.
- Acting and Masks: The masks used for theatrical purposes were made of linen that had been soaked in plaster and sewn to the cap of a wig.
- Research on the Ancient Greek Mask: Research paper that explores the effect of ancient Greek masks helped create the Greek carnival event that is celebrated in Greece.
- Ancient Theater Archive: A virtual reality tour of the Greek and Roman Theater. Explains how an onkos, a Greek tragic mask, was created to elongate the actors face.
- The Making of Masks: Masks were generally made by artisans that were experts or noted sculptures of mask making. The sym
- The Symbols Used on Greek Masks: An example of the symbolism would be the use of protruding tongues would be linked to flame, fire or fertility. Many symbols were used to carry out different meanings in theater beyond the mere acting involved.
- Gold Funeral Masks: Findings at a Grecian excavation site reveals masks made out of gold were used as funeral masks.
- The Art of Ancient Greek Theater: Material that covers the ancient Greek theater including masks and how and when they were incorporated into the plays.
- Masks of Authority: Fiction and Pragmatics in Ancient Greek Poetics: References different poetic plays and theater works involving masks.
- Theater in Ancient Greek Society: Explores the impact of theater in the Greek society and the world.
- Mask and Performance in Greek Tragedy: Investigates masks and performances from ancient Greece up to modern day.
- The Greeks and Greek Love: A Bold New Exploration of the Ancient World: Moves through the Greeks on the battlefield, theater and in the gymnasium.
- The Masks of Menander: Sign and Meaning of Greek and Roman Performance: Provides information about the techniques of performances taking from archeological factors.
- Agamemnon A Tragedy: 1832 A culturally important, rare, hard to find book outlining information about Agamemnon, the Greek tragedy.
- Theater of the Greeks: A historical review of Grecian drama, literature and criticism.
- Greek and Roman Actors: Explores the chronology of the geographical spread of Greek theater.
- A Guide to Ancient Greek Drama: Plays written beginning the 6th century BC. This book gives insight to the entire production including masks.