East Asia

Protective masks are intimidating

This old Kendo mask from Okinawa, Japan, is now on a mask collector’s wall. Of course it is made to protect the fencer, but it also has a strong presence that is designed to worry the opponent. In case you aren’t familiar with the sport, Kendo is one of Japan’s martial arts that employs techniques of fencing based on the two-handed sword of the samurai. Kendo is now a system for mental and physical training practice using bamboo swords. It makes use of a face mask and a uniform of quilted cloth panels.

On page 168 of our new book, Masks of the World, we start chapter 13, which is called “Protection & Protest,” by describing different highly functional masks that can also be collectible art.  Much of the book (the previous twelve chapters) describes masks that function in rituals and celebrations, but are also highly prized by collectors and museums for their artistic value.

If you enjoy this website, you should own Masks of the World.  Yes, Troy and I wrote the book, but… it is the most up-to-date reference book on masks… and by far the largest ever published. Buy it from us or on Amazon.

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