"the passion masks of the Greeks and Japanese"
Greek Tragedy and Comedy Masks. Roman Mosaic, 2nd century AD
Creative Commons AttributionGreek Tragedy and Comedy Masks. Roman Mosaic, 2nd century AD - Credit: antmoose/Wikimedia Commons

Ancient Greek and Japanese theatre masks are often grotesque in appearance, with wide, leering or horrified mouths. In theatre, the over-exaggerated facial features allow the characters and their emotions to be seen and understood by audiences in large theatres, as well as helping to distinguish between different characters. They could also add to a sense of comedy and tragedy. In festivals and ritual, the mask can represent a particular hero, god, spirit or legendary animal, and evoke or convey different atmospheres and emotions. Masks could also be used as votive offerings, left at a particular god’s shrine or temple.

Images and further information on Japanese masks

More about ancient Greek theatre