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masks-mumming-lnks – 2/15/04


A set of web links to information on medieval masks, mumming and Masques by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.


NOTE: See also the files: Mask-Making-art, masks-msg, masque-msg, puppets-msg, theater-bib, theater-msg, jesters-msg, juggling-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: Lis <liontamr at ptd.net>

Date: Wed Dec 31, 2003  8:53:53 PM US/Central

To: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>

Subject: Links: Masks, Mumming, and Masques


Greetings and Hog Manai!


This Links List is dedicated to Masks and their use---at Masques (Plays

using them which evolved into large spectacles), mumming, and wassailing.

Oddly enough I never found mention of a Masked Ball, which leads me to

believe it MAY have been a later practice.


In this season of Good Cheer, our Medieval brethren would have had a wide

access to such festivities, which would break up the monotony of the winter

season. One tidbit I discovered while making this list  is that the masks

Medieval people fashioned were often called Vizards in England, though that

term bore no URL fruit :) This Links List was suggested by Daggonel the

Juggler, and this list has been updated since I sent him some links

suggestions---if you perused his mask information you may want to read this

one anyway. Thanks Daggonel! This links list also contains information

suitable for children's activities AND some reading suggestions if you are

interested in the subject in greater depth.


Please feel free to share these links wherever they will find a ready

audience, and to update your own WebPages with this Links list.






Dame Aoife Finn

Riverouge, Aethelmearc.


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Masque and Pastoral. The Masque in Spenser


(Site Excerpt) When we reach the reign of Elizabeth, Spenser's poetry, even

more adequately than Hall's prose, reflects and revives the glory of the

medieval masque and pageant. His genius, in some of its most characteristic

aspects, was exactly fitted to describe and appreciate the world just beyond

the real world with which the masque dealt. The masque of the Seven Deadly

Sins 11  and the masque of Cupid 12  are magnificent examples of the

processional masque.


The English Court Masque


(Site Excerpt) During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, however,

entertainment often demanded a more universal involvement, calling for the

participation of townspeople and courtiers as well as professional actors,

dancers and singers. People might spend weeks or months rehearsing to

prepare for and present a play, a musical entertainment or a sporting event.

The rehearsal and preparation was considered as much a part of the

entertainment as the performance itself. James Goldman's The Lion in Winter

presents a fictional view of Henry II of England and France early in the

thirteenth century, making such merriment as part of the Christmas holidays.


Popularity of the Masque in the age of Elizabeth


(Site Excerpt) The drama meant, broadly, the introduction into popular

entertainment of a new intellectual element, which gradually discredited

pageantry, so that it ceased to be the art of the educated and refined. But,

all through the Elizabethan age and until the closing of the theatres in

1642, masque and pageantry held their place in the public eye, and in the

public interest, as the most important and honourable and magnificent of the

arts. The masque at court and among the nobility, and the pageant among the

citizens, were practised with an energy that, for the time being, made them

the most obvious, if not the most characteristic, of the national

activities, the means by which corporate and national feeling most readily

expressed itself.


Ben Jonson's The Masque of Oberon

Music by Ferrabosco II, Johnson, Holborne

Musicians of the Globe - Philip Pickett (A CD For Sale of the 1611 Piece)



The Masque - So What Was THAT About?


(Site Excerpt--this is a how-to page from a Masque "instructor")  Some Tudor

English seems at least not very polite to people who are used to modern

English. If you're working with me as Master Diccen, Tudor travelling

musician, you may well be told to "sit on your arse." This isn't at all

rude. It's the same as a modern teacher telling you to sit on your bottom.

Tudor people used very straight words to describe things modern people

sometimes get embarrassed about. For example the pot under the bed, for use

at night, was properly called the pisspot. There are plenty more examples in

Tudor writing. BUT when Diccen actually swears, hardly any modern people

seem to notice - you may hear things like, "God's Bones" or "By the Mass."

This, to a Tudor person, would be quite strong. It just goes to show that at

different times in history, different things are important to people; and

people swear about what they think is important.


Dictionary.com's entry for "Masque"



Skipton Castle


This site has several activities suitable for children including a Lord and

Lady's Mask Project.



Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England

Author:  Twycross, Meg

Author:  Carpenter , Sarah

Hardcover: 418 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.25 x 8.75 x 6.00

Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Company; (June 2002)

ISBN: 0754602303


Medieval English Theatre Bobliography:



Carpenter, Sarah Masks and Mirrors: Questions of Identity in Medieval

Morality Drama

Carpenter, Sarah & Meg Twycross  Masks in Medieval English Theatre: The

Mystery Plays

Carpenter, Sarah & Meg Twycross  Masks in Medieval English Theatre: The

Mystery Plays 2

Carpenter, Sarah & Meg Twycross  Materials and Methods of Mask-making


Masks of Shame (Medieval Punishment Masks)


(Site Excerpt) The Masks of Shame: Those being punished had to wear these

masks for public displays of their shame. There was a "Flute of Shame" for

bad musicians, "Swine Mask" for men treating women poorly, the "Hood of

Shame" for bad students, and many more masks of shame.


The Functions And Forms Of Masks


(Site Excerpt pf relevant bits) In the Middle Ages, masks were used in the

mystery plays of the 12th to the 16th century. In plays dramatizing portions

of the Old and New Testaments, grotesques of all sorts, such as devils,

demons, dragons, and personifications of the seven deadly sins, were brought

to stage life by the use of masks. Constructed of papier-mch, the masks of

the mystery plays were evidently marvels of ingenuity and craftsmanship,

being made to articulate and to belch fire and smoke from hidden

contrivances. But again, no reliable pictorial record has survived.Masks

used in connection with present-day carnivals and Mardi Gras and those of

folk demons and characters still used by central European peasants, such as

the Perchten masks of Alpine Austria, are most likely the inheritors of the

tradition of medieval masks.


Festival Masks

Made from stiffened linen

By Sancha de Flores


(Site Excerpt) In period, however, according to Masks and Masking in

Medieval and Early Tudor England, by Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter,

papier mache is not often seen as a mask-making material until the 16th

century. Mask materials that would have been used during the Middle Ages

included wood, leather, plaster, canvas, and linen. Cauls (netting) were

also worn over the face as masks.

See Also:

Gilded Mask for a Lord of Misrule

Made from stiffened linen



Info on Wassailing and Mask wearing while doing so (Henry VII had problems

with it)


(Site Excerpt) Mumming is also an ancient pagan custom that was an excuse

for people to have a party at Christmas! It means 'making diversion in

disguise'. The tradition was that men and women would swap clothes, put on

masks and go visiting their neighbours, singing, dancing or putting on a

play with a silly plot.


Mummers and the wearing of Masks


(Site Excerpt) Parties of masqueraders who disguised themselves in masks

after the manner of the ancient Romans in the Saturnalia. Christmas was the

grand scene of mumming, and some mummers were disguised like bears, others

like unicorns, bringing presents. Those who could not procure masks rubbed

their faces with soot, or painted them. In the Christmas mummeries the chief

aim was to surprise by the oddity of the masks and the singularity and

splendor of the dresses. Everything was out of nature and propriety. They

were often attended with an exhibition of gorgeous machinery. Besides the

set and formal mummings, the members, guests, and servants of a household

would put on masks, and, thus disguised, practice rude jests on one another.


Mummings and Disguisings: development of these into the Masque.


(Site Excerpt) In this account, we have what is probably the oldest and

simplest form of what is afterwards the masque. 1  It is called "a mumming,"

and the performers are "mummers." The word means that the disguised

performers say nothing that would betray their identity. They dice in

silence, using only dumb show where they wish to signify their meaning. But

they are all disguised with vizards, the old word for mask; they are

accompanied by musicians; they dance together among themselves when their

"mumming" business is over and torchbearers conduct them on their way.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org