05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Mask -- Carolina Style

By Robin Weaver

In keeping with this month’s theme, I thought I’d write about my masks.  Not my psychological ones (to which you’re saying, "whew").  I’m not referring to the professional mask I wear in the office that lets me nod sympathetically when I want to say: “No. I don’t believe you’re late because the dog ate your badge.” Nor do I mean my this party’s not boring at all mask.  I’m sure you have one, too. I’ve found this mask wears better when combined with alcohol. :)

And, I’m especially not talking about my grocery store mask. The one I paste on my face to hide my aversion to food shopping—having to eat every day can be a real pain.
Instead, I’m talking about my mask collection—or what’s left of it. “Collection?” You ask.  Oh-no, you didn’t read this far because you expected to hear about a super hero fetish or some kinky stuff, did you?

One of My Imitations
Anyway, I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer beauty of Venetian masks. These identity-disguisers have always been an important feature of the Venetian carnival. There is little evidence explaining the motive for the earliest mask wearing. Most likely, a grown-up version of make-believe. The first Venetian masks were pretty simple, having very little ornamentation, and typically had a practical or symbolic purpose.  That changed. Italian masks evolved to include gold leaf, precious gems, and hand painting. No wonder since we humans have always had a fascination with “shiny objects.”
My collection included only imitations—real Venetian masks cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

The one on the right (sadly, not one in my collection) retails for $450 and it's not even an antique.

Venetian Mask--Not in My Collection
I lost interest and stopped accumulating masks, primarily because they became too easy to find. What is it about us humans that makes us value the rare above commonplace beauty—that’s a blog for another day. Over the years, I’ve collected, and stopped collecting, a lot of things: Hummels (storage became a problem), carousel figurines, unicorns (unicorn paraphernalia, not the actual animals—hey, don’t judge me.  It was the eighties).
Phantom of the Opera Mask

I kept a few of my favorite masks--how could I not. They are exquisite.

A couple years back, I actually added to the leftover collection when I created new masks for my Phantom of the Opera themed Christmas tree.  We're talking half-mask, like the Phantom wore. Before the holidays were over, I had to take the masks off the tree—they creeped me out. :-0

Today, the remainder of my collection sits mask behind the glass in my cabinet, waiting for me to write a blog (or for some other inciting incident that makes me take notice) to be again be appreciated.

What about you? Have something beautiful sitting around your house that’s underappreciated?

Sheriff Casey Randolph tries to unmask the "real killer" in my latest thriller, Styrofoam Corpse.

He’s sworn to uphold the law.
She swears she didn’t do it. The evidence says otherwise.


Judith Ashley said...

I have boxes of collectible plates in my storage area and over the years I've collected or had gifted to me so many owls, probably half of them are boxed up. I now only focus on snowy owls and even though I've told people that, I still get owls in varying colors-sigh. If not a snowy owl, at least a whimsical one. Love the masks!

I'd heard that masks were used so people could attend the festivities and not be identified which allowed them to engage in all kinds of behavior that would have been judged unseemly at best. However, that may be a later use of wearing masks.

Robin Weaver, Author said...

Very interesting, Judith. I didn't include it in the blog, but one of the reasons I stopped collecting is that you get so many as gifts, so I understand your storage issue. :)

Ann Chaney said...

I do have a mask story to share. I have kept a black and gold half mask on my bookshelf for several years. the mask was a table favor at a dinner, I think. Our granddaughter Carolina came to visit in August A vacation before pre-school started.) She'd grown a couple of inches and could reach the mask. Needless to say, she took possession of the mask and made sure it was in her suitcase when she went home.

Linda Lovely said...

The masks are gorgeous. Alas, I don't collect anything unless dust bunnies and/or outgrown clothes count. I'm happy to report I hauled a trunkload of clothes to a charity this week. I'm guessing I have three trunkloads to go.

M Connel said...

Very interesting blog! I have had collections get out of hand myself so Ive tried to limit quite a bit as I get older. I bet a mask collection would be so beautiful though!

M Connel said...

Very interesting blog! I have had collections get out of hand myself so Ive tried to limit quite a bit as I get older. I bet a mask collection would be so beautiful though!

Diana McCollum said...

Love your masks! Me too, I've had collections get out of hand. Right now I have boxes of little colored bottles, fairies, hand made ceramic pottery. Some day I'll have a garage sale and unload a bunch of stored 'things'. Right now, I'm working on closets and chest of drawers and eliminating unused, old clothes. Great blog, post.

Maggie Lynch said...

I also find your masks beautiful--except the Phantom of the Opera one, that one does creep me out.

Like others have said, I've collected things in the past. My largest and most enduring collection has been books. Though I've downsized to a four shelf bookcase now (thank to digital books that don't take up space), when I moved from Ohio to Oregon, I had over 80 boxes of books. In the 1980's I collected two things--plates and teddy bears. The plates departed in a big garage sale in 2000. Most of the Teddy Bears have been given away to children. As we are downsizing, I hope for the last time, the four bears I had left just went into a church box for the shelter. Since the turn of the century I haven't really collected anything in such quantities except pictures and the occasional souvenier from travels. Thank heavens for digital pictures which don't take up much space.

For me, hanging on to those collections had been a kind of physical reminder of who I was in those decades--what I read, the meaning bestowed upon collections representing my experiences and belief systems about the world. Now, I've decided to collect experiences documented by digital pictures (easy to store) or written into stories that become books. No more things to be dusted on shelves or walls.

Cole Deacon said...

A wooden figurine of a child's rocking horse hung on a Christmas tree each year in remembrance of a love lost…..should it be placed among the masks or in a more prominent area of the tree? If that love comes back decades later and is still as strong, do the masks smile in the middle of the night?