The Power of Symbols
Editor(s): N. Ross Crumrine and Majoie M. Halpin
Synopsis: The use of masks in tribal and peasant societies has long fascinated the Western World, an interest that ranges from an appreciation of masks for their aesthetic qualities in museum collections to the donning of masks by children at Halloween. Nevertheless masks and the purpose of masking have received relatively little attention from anthropologists, and no general theory of the use of masks has been formulated.
The Power of Symbols contains papers presented at the 42nd International Congress of Americanists. Considering the interplay between the mask, the mask bearer, and the audience, the studies concentrate on the general idea of masking as a transformational ritual in which the human actor is transformed into a being of another order. The authors use examples from various cultures and in their analysis argue for particular sets of relationships as being crucial to the understanding of the mask.