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Origins, The Functions Of Masking, Bibliography

The Western term for an object that transforms a face, mask, derives from the Arabic word maskhara, "to transform into an animal or monster." This term was derived from the term msk, used in the middle Egyptian period to denote "second skin." In Arabic, it became msr, which meant "to Egyptianize," referring to the ubiquitous practice among Egyptians of masquerading, as the Arabs noted (Nunley and McCarty, p. 15). Masks, however, were an integral component in the development of human culture and social evolution long before the term mask ever existed. A lion-headed human figure carved from mammoth ivory found in France has been dated to at least 30,000 B.C.E., from the later Aurignacian (Upper Paleolithic) period. Moreover, masked images of humans have been found on Mimbres pottery (ninth to thirteenth centuries) in the American Southwest and in painted images on rock surfaces in Australia, Africa, and Siberia.

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