Monday, October 10, 2011


   Here's another nice find while surfing for holiday ideas.  Wouldn't these be great at a teen Halloween party or even as a nice offering at an adult party.  Brought to you by www.mattbites.com .  The black and red play off each other and look so cool together with the actual sticks from a tree.  Good luck and enjoy making these, let me know how they turned out for you.

Adam’s Scary Apples


   Full confession: When I was about 4 or 5 years old I was so utterly terrified of Halloween that I once ran from the dinner table to the bedroom where I locked myself inside it for 20 minutes while Trick or Treaters came to the front door of the house. I’m not sure why I did that exactly as I wasn’t normally a timid or shy child; I think my dramatic exit had more to do with the fact that I enjoyed that sense of fright, darkness and mystery that rolls around every October. I like to be scared when I know nothing bad will actually happen.
   This explains my interest in fright nights, scary movies, haunted houses, macabre scenarios, you name it. I think there’s a part of all of us that likes that thrill…why else would we visit haunted houses, watch slasher films, and listen to Paris Hilton songs and videos?
   Not that I’ve done the latter. Even that’s too scary for me.
   When I mentioned to Adam that I wanted to do my first Halloween blog post about a cocktail I tried he quickly informed me that it would neither be a) exciting b) deep enough or c) have enough pizazz. “What’s so exciting about a cocktail, all by itself?” he asked. I could see his point as there are tons of others who focus on spirits and do a much better job. Besides, this drink wasn’t anything exciting or thrilling but perfect for the grown-ups at any Halloween party. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll help you out” said Adam.
   Wow. Was my drink really that lackluster that it needed help? Apparently so.
He grabbed his car keys, ran to the store, came back but not before making a detour to the front yard where he began tugging at one of the trees. My partner isn’t a man of a thousand words (which must be why we’re a great match) but sometimes stoic and methodical. He was up to something I could tell but I didn’t quite know what. When he returned to the kitchen he ransacked his baking shelf, took out the candy thermometer, a sheet pan and began his kitchen alchemy.
What happened next was pure magic.
   I walked back into the kitchen to find the most beautiful candied apples before me. Black glossy cinnamon-scented candied glass enveloped small apples, twigs became their handles, and a few shockingly red candied apples only made their black counterparts more ominous. It was halloween on a silpat, a spooky forest that completed my cocktail.


   I had no choice but to have him bundle up the apples, head to the studio with me where I knew exactly how I wanted to photograph them. They joined my new favorite black wine goblets from Juliska in an eery still life that still gives me the chills when I look at it. Only this time there’s no need to lock myself in my bedroom.

Red & Black Candy Apples

8-10 medium sized apples
8-10 wooden twigs, twimmed
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup of water
several drops of cinnamon flavored oil
1/4 teaspoon of red food coloring
1/4 teaspoon of black food coloring

   Clean and dry the apples. Try to remove as much of the wax as possible. If you purchase them from your local farmer’s market then chances are they have not been treated with the food grade wax that makes then shine. Remove any stems or leaves and insert a twig into the end of each apple. To facilitate easier twig entry you can carefully sharpen the end of the twig or use a candy stick to create a guide hole. Set apples aside.
Heat and stir sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Boil until the syrup reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Don’t go over 310 degrees or your candy burns and then you’ll be sad.
   Remove from heat and stir in flavored oil and food coloring.
   Dip one apple completely in the syrup and swirl it so that it becomes coated with the melted sugar candy. Hold the apple above the saucepan to drain off excess. Place apple, with the stick facing up, onto a baking sheet that’s greased or lined with a silpat. Repeat the process with the remaining apples. If your syrup thickens or cools too much, simply reheat briefly before proceeding. Let the apples cool completely before serving.
A note about the black apples: Lighter colored apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious) work well in making the red appear bright and glassy; darker apples like red delicious help the black candy appear as dark as possible. Muy spooky!
Also, Adam made one batch with red food coloring and after he had a few red apples he reheated the candy mixture and added black food coloring. Adding black to red will make it darker. He repeated the dipping process. Black food coloring can be found online or at specialty baking stores.


Definition Of What a Mask Is-

A form of disguise. It is an object that is frequently worn over or in front of the face to hide the identity of a person and by its own features to establish another being. This essential characteristic of hiding and revealing personalities or moods is common to all masks. As cultural objects they have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age and have been as varied in appearance as in their use and symbolism.
General Characteristics
   Masks have been designed in innumerable varieties, from the simplest of crude “false faces” held by a handle to complete head coverings with ingenious movable parts and hidden faces. Mask makers have shown great resourcefulness in selecting and combining available materials. Among the substances utilized are woods, metals, shells, fibers, ivory, clay, horn, stone, feathers, leather, furs, paper, cloth, and corn husks. Surface treatments have ranged from rugged simplicity to intricate carving and from polished woods and mosaics to gaudy adornments.
   Masks generally are worn with a costume, often so complete that it entirely
covers the body of the wearer. Fundamentally the costume completes the new identity represented by the mask, and usually tradition prescribes its appearance and construction to the same extent as the mask itself. Costumes, like the masks, are made of a great variety of materials, all of which have a symbolic connection with the mask's total imagery. Ideally the costume should be seen with the mask while the wearer is in action.
   The morphological elements of the mask are with few exceptions derived from natural forms. Masks with human features are classified as anthropomorphic and those with animal
characteristics as theriomorphic. In some instances, the mask form is a replication of natural features or closely follows the lineaments of reality, and in other instances it is an abstraction. Masks usually represent supernatural beings, ancestors, and fanciful or imagined figures and can also be portraits. The localization of a particular spirit in a specific mask must be considered a highly significant reason for its existence.

   The change in identity of the wearer for that of the mask is vital, for if the spirit represented does not reside in the image of the mask, the ritual petitions, supplications, and offerings made to it would be ineffectual and meaningless. The mask, therefore, most often functions as a means of contact with various spirit powers, thereby protecting against the unknown forces of the universe by prevailing upon their potential beneficence in all matters relative to life.

The Making Of Masks
   With few exceptions, masks have been made by professionals who were either expert in this particular craft or were noted sculptors or artisans. In societies in which masks of supernatural beings have played a significant ceremonial role, it is presumed that the spirit power of the created image usually is strongly felt by the artist. A primary belief involved in both the conception and the rendering of these objects was that spirit power dwelled in all organic and inorganic matter, and therefore the mask will contain the spirit power of whatever material was used to make it.
   This power is considered a volatile, active force that is surrounded by various taboos and restrictions for the protection of those handling it. Certain prescribed rituals frequently have to be followed in the process of the mask's creation. A spirit power is also often believed to inhabit the artist's tools so that even these have to be handled in a prescribed manner. As the form of the mask develops it is usually believed to acquire power increasingly in its own right, and again various procedures are prescribed to protect the craftsman and to ensure the potency of the object.

   If all the conventions have been adhered to, the completed mask, when worn or displayed, is regarded as an object suffused with great supernatural or spirit power. In some cultures it is
believed that because of the close association between the mask maker and the spirit of the mask, the artist absorbs some of its magic power. A few West African tribal groups in Mali believe, in fact, that the creators of masks are even potentially capable of using the object's supernatural powers to cause harm to others.
   Aesthetically, the mask maker has usually been restricted in the forms he can use since masks generally have a traditional imagery with formal conventions. If they are not followed, the artist can bring upon himself the severe censure of his social group and the displeasure or even wrath of the spirit power inherent in the mask. This requirement for accuracy, however, does not restrict artistic expressiveness.

   The mask maker can and does give his own creative interpretation to the traditionally prescribed general forms, attributes, and devices. The artist, in fact, is usually sought out as a maker of masks because of his known ability to give a vitally expressive or an aesthetically pleasing presentation of the required image.

The Wearing Of Masks
   The wearer is also considered to be in direct association with the spirit force of the mask and is consequently exposed to like personal danger of being affected by it. For his protection, the wearer, like the mask maker, is required to follow certain sanctioned procedures in his use of the mask. In some respects he plays the role of an actor in cooperation or collaboration with the mask. Without his performing dance and posturing routines, which are often accompanied with certain sounds of music, the mask would remain a representation without a full life-force.

   The real drama and power of its form is the important contribution of the wearer. When he is attired in the mask, there is a loss of his previous identity and the assuming of a new one. Upon donning the mask, the wearer sometimes undergoes a psychic change and as in a trance assumes the spirit character depicted by the mask.
   Usually, however, the wearer skillfully becomes a “partner” of the character he is impersonating, giving to the mask not only an important spark of vitality by the light flashing from his own eyes but also bringing it alive by his movements and poses. But it would seem that the wearer often becomes psychologically completely attached to the character he is helping to create. He loses his own identity and becomes like an automaton, without his own will, which has become subservient to that of the personage of the mask. It appears, however, that at all times there remains some important, even if sub rosa, association between the mask and its wearer.

The Mask Though Someone Elses Eyes
   It is as consecrated objects imbued with supernatural power that masks are viewed by the spectators or participants at ceremonials where their presence is required. Whatever their specific identity may be, the masks usually refer back to early times, when their initial appearance occurred. This basic aspect of the mask is understood at least in essence by everyone. A paramount role of the mask is to give a sense of continuity between the present and the beginnings of time, a sense that is of vital importance for the integration of a culture with no written history.
   Psychologically the spectators become associated with the past through the
spirit power of the mask, and this often leads the participants to a state of complete absorption or near-frenzy. This is not, however, a consistent reaction to masked ceremonials. That depends on the character whose presence the mask represents.
   In some cases, the spirit or supernatural being depicted is viewed with rejoicing and almost a familiarity, which leads to gaiety that has a cathartic aspect. Even so, the mask has a spirit content that is respected and revered, even if it is not showing a being with malignant potential. All of these forms have spirit and magical qualities and are thus esteemed as agents for the accomplishing of superhuman acts.

   Some masks, however, do represent malignant, evil, or potentially harmful spirits. These are often used to keep a required balance of power or a traditional social and political relationship of inherited positions within a culture. The characters depicted are also prescribed by tradition and enact roles to achieve the desired ends.
   The drama involving these masks is often associated with secret societies, especially in Africa, where the greatest range of mask forms and functions can be observed. These forms are often used in very restricted performances, where only select persons can view them. This is also true in other areas where masks are used, such as in Oceania, the Americas, and even in some of the folk mask rites still performed in Europe.

Meaning Of Different Masks
   On the basis of present knowledge, it would appear that there is not or has not been any set response or reaction by any one of the three groups involved with the mask: the artist, the wearer, the spectator. There is, however, a reaction of a very particular kind common to every culture, a response such as awe, delight and pleasure, fear and even terror: these are as traditionally determined as the forms and costumes of the masks themselves. This is a learned and inherent pattern of conduct for each culture.
   Masks, therefore, that have a closely comparable appearance in several unrelated groups in quite different parts of the world often have totally dissimilar meanings and functions. It is thus practically impossible to determine either the meaning or use of a mask by its appearance alone. For example, some masks in Africa, as well as in Oceania and East Asia, have such a grotesque or frightening appearance as to lead one to suspect that they represent evil spirits with an intent to terrorize the spectators; actually they may have the opposite character and function.
   The significance of masks can be determined only by reference to accounts or personal observations of the masks in the setting of their own culture.
   The aesthetic effects of masks, on the other hand, since they derive from the forms and their disposition within the design, can readily be evaluated as art objects. But this evaluation is based on elements very different from those appraised within the mask's own culture. This is partly because the total artistic qualities of a mask derive both from its exterior forms and from its meaning and function within its cultural context.

   There exist, however, in all cultures criteria for determining the quality of objects as art. These criteria differ from one culture to another, and they may be known only from investigations carried out within the varying cultures.

Preserving  And Collecting Masks
   The preservation or disposal of masks is often decreed by tradition. Many masks and often their form and function are passed down through clans, families, special societies, or from individual to individual. They are usually spiritually reactivated or aesthetically restored by repainting and redecorating, without destroying the basic form and symbolism. In many instances, however, the mask is used only for one ceremony or occasion and then is discarded or destroyed, sometimes by burning.
   The collecting of masks has largely been of recent origin. Not until the late 19th and early
20th century were they seriously appreciated as art objects or studied as cultural artifacts. Most masks have been obtained through archaeological excavations or in field expeditions, that is, in their place of origin.

The Functions And Forms Of Masks
   Masks are as extraordinarily varied in appearance as they are in function or fundamental meaning. Many masks are primarily associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. Other masks are used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. Masks are also used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports, as well as frequently being employed as architectural ornament.

Social And Religious Uses Of  Masks In Other Cultures
   Masks representing potentially harmful spirits were often used to keep a required balance of power or a traditional relationship of inherited positions within a culture. The forms of these masks invariably were prescribed by tradition, as were their uses. This type of mask was often associated with secret societies, especially in Africa, where the greatest range of types and functions can be found. They were also widely used among Oceanic peoples of the South Pacific and the American Indians and are even used in some of the folk rites still performed in Europe.

   Masks have served an important role as a means of discipline and have been used to admonish women, children, and criminals. Common in China, Africa, Oceania, and North America, admonitory masks usually completely cover the features of the wearer. It is believed among some of the African Negro tribes that the first mask was an admonitory one. A child, repeatedly told not to, persisted in following its mother to fetch water. To frighten and discipline the child, the mother painted a hideous face on the bottom of her water gourd.
   Others say the mask was invented by a secret African society to escape recognition while punishing marauders. In New Britain, members of a secret terroristic society called the Dukduk appear in monstrous five-foot masks to police, to judge, and to execute offenders. Aggressive supernatural spirits of an almost demonic nature are represented by these masks, which are constructed from a variety of materials, usually including tapa, or bark cloth, and the pith of certain reeds. These materials are painted in brilliant colours, with brick red and acid green predominating.
   In many cultures throughout the world, a judge wears a mask to protect him from future recriminations. In this instance, the mask represents a traditionally sanctioned spirit from the past who assumes responsibility for the decision levied on the culprit.

   Rituals, often nocturnal, by members of secret societies wearing ancestor masks are reminders of the ancient sanction of their conduct. In many cultures, these masked ceremonials are intended to prevent miscreant acts and to maintain the circumscribed activities of the tribe. Along the Guinea coast of West Africa, for instance, many highly realistic masks represent ancestors who enjoyed specific cultural roles; the masks symbolize sanction and control when donned by the wearer.

   Among some of the Dan and Ngere tribes of Liberia and Ivory Coast, ancestor masks with generic features act as intermediaries for the transmission of petitions or offerings of respect to the gods. These traditional ancestral emissaries exert by their spirit power a social control for the community.
   Particularly among Oceanic peoples, American Indians, and Negro tribes of Africa, certain times of the year are set aside to honour spirits or ancestors. Among nonliterate peoples who cannot record their own histories, masked rituals act as an important link between past and present, giving a sense of historic continuity that strengthens their social bond. On these occasions, masks usually recognizable as dead chieftains, relatives, friends, or even foes are worn or exhibited. Gifts are made to the spirits incarnated in the masks, while in other instances dancers wearing stylized mourning masks perform the prescribed ceremony.

   In western Melanesia, the ancestral ceremonial mask occurs in a great variety of forms and materials. The Sepik River area in north central New Guinea is the source of an extremely rich
array of these mask forms mostly carved in wood, ranging from small faces to large fantastic forms with a variety of appendages affixed to the wood, including shell, fiber, animal skins, seed, flowers, and feathers. These masks are highly polychromed with earth colours of red and yellow, lime white, and charcoal black. They often represent supernatural spirits as well as ancestors and therefore have both a religious and a social significance.
   Members of secret societies usually conduct the rituals of initiation, when a young man is instructed in his future role as an adult and is acquainted with the rules controlling the social stability of the tribe. Totem and spiritualistic masks are donned by the elders at these ceremonies. Sometimes the masks used are reserved only for initiations. Among the most impressive of the initiation masks are the exquisitely carved human faces of west coast African Negro tribes.

   In western and central Congo (Kinshasa), in Africa, large, colourful helmetlike masks are used as a masquerading device when the youth emerges from the initiation area and is introduced to the villagers as an adult of the tribe. After a lengthy ordeal of teaching and initiation rites, for instance, a youth of the Pende tribe appears in a distinctive colourful mask indicative of his new role as an adult. The mask is later cast aside and replaced by a small ivory duplicate, worn as a charm against misfortune and as a symbol of his manhood.
   Believing everything in nature to possess a spirit, man found authority for himself and his family by identifying with a specific nonhuman spirit. He adopted an object of nature; then he mythologically traced his ancestry back to the chosen object; he preempted the animal as the emblem of himself and his clan. This is the practice of totem, which consolidates family pride and distinguishes social lines. Masks are made to house the totem spirit. The totem ancestor is believed actually to materialize in its mask; thus masks are of the utmost importance in securing protection and bringing comfort to the totem clan.
   The Papuans of New Guinea build mammoth masks called hevehe, attaining 20 feet in height. They are constructed of a palm wood armature covered in bark cloth; geometric designs are stitched on with painted cane strips. These fantastic man–animal masks are given a frightening aspect. When they emerge from the men's secret clubhouse, they serve to protect the members of the clan.
   The so-called “totem” pole of the Alaskan and British Columbian Indian fulfills the same function. The African totem mask is often carved from ebony or other hard woods, designed with graceful lines and showing a highly polished surface. Animal masks, their features elongated and beautifully formalized, are common in western Africa. Dried grass, woven palm fibers, coconuts, and shells, as well as wood are employed in the masks of New Guinea, New Ireland, and New Caledonia. Represented are fanciful birds, fishes, and animals with distorted or exaggerated features.

   The high priest and medicine man, or the shaman, frequently had his own very powerful totem, in whose mask he could exorcise evil spirits, punish enemies, locate game or fish, predict the weather, and, most importantly, cure disease.
   The Northwest Coast Indians of North America in particular devised mechanical masks with movable parts to reveal a second face—generally a human image. Believing that the human spirit could take animal form and vice versa, the makers of these masks fused man and bird or man and animal into one mask. Some of these articulating masks acted out entire legends as their parts moved.

Funerary And Commemorative Uses Of Masks
   In cultures in which burial customs are important, anthropomorphic masks have often been used in ceremonies associated with the dead and departing spirits. Funerary masks were frequently used to cover the face of the deceased. Generally their purpose was to represent the features of the deceased, both to honour them and to establish a relationship through the mask with the spirit world. Sometimes they were used to force the spirit of the newly dead to depart for the spirit world. Masks were also made to protect the deceased by frightening away malevolent spirits.   From the Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1786 BC) to the 1st century AD, the ancient Egyptians placed stylized masks with generalized features on the faces of their dead. The funerary mask served to guide the spirit of the deceased back to its final resting place in the body. They were commonly made of cloth covered with stucco or plaster, which was then painted. For more important personages, silver and gold were used. Among the most splendid examples of the burial portrait mask is the one created c. 1350 BC for the pharaoh Tutankhamen. In Mycenaean tombs of c. 1400 BC, beaten gold portrait masks were found. Gold masks also were placed on the faces of the dead kings of Cambodia and Siam.
   The mummies of Inca royalty wore golden masks. The mummies of lesser personages often had masks that were made of wood or clay. Some of these ancient Andean masks had movable parts, such as the metallic death mask with movable ears that was found in the Moon Pyramid at Moche, Peru. The ancient Mexicans made burial masks that seem to be generic representations rather than portraits of individuals.

   In ancient Roman burials, a mask resembling the deceased was often place over his face or was worn by an actor hired to accompany the funerary cortege to the burial site. In patrician families these masks or imagines were sometimes preserved as ancestor portraits and were displayed on ceremonial occasions. Such masks were usually modeled over the features of the dead and cast in wax. This technique was revived in the making of effigy masks for the royalty and nobility of Europe from the late Middle Ages through the 18th century.
   Painted and with human hair, these masks were attached to a dummy dressed in state regalia and were used for display, processionals, or commemorative ceremonials. From the 17th century to the 20th, death masks of famous persons became widespread among European peoples. With wax or liquid plaster of paris, a negative cast of the human face could be produced that in turn acted as a mold for the positive image, frequently cast in bronze. In the 19th century, life masks made in the same manner became popular.
   Another type of life mask had been produced in the Fayyum region of Egypt during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. These were realistic portraits painted in encaustic on wood during a person's lifetime; when the person died, they were attached directly to the facial area on the mummy shroud.
   The skull mask is another form usually associated with funerary rites. The skull masks of the Aztecs, like their wooden masks, were inlaid with mosaics of turquoise and lignite, and the eye sockets were filled with pyrites. Holes were customarily drilled in the back so the mask might be hung or possibly worn. In Melanesia, the skull of the deceased is often modeled over with clay, or resin and wax, and then elaborately painted with designs that had been used ceremonially by the deceased during his own lifetime.

Masks For Use In Therapy
   Masks have played an important part in magico-religious rites to prevent and to cure disease. In some cultures, the masked members of secret societies could drive disease demons from entire villages and tribes. Among the best known of these groups was the False Face Society of the North American Iroquois Indians. These professional healers performed violent pantomimes to exorcise the dreaded Gahadogoka gogosa (demons who plagued the Iroquois). They wore grimacing, twisted masks, often with long wigs of horsehair. Metallic inserts often were used around the eyes to catch the light of the campfire and the moon, emphasizing the grotesqueness of the mask.

   Masks for protection from disease include the measle masks worn by Chinese children and the
cholera masks worn during epidemics by the Chinese and Burmese. The disease mask is most developed among the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), where 19 distinct rakasa, or disease devil masks, have been devised. These masks are of ferocious aspect, fanged, and with startling eyes. Gaudily coloured and sometimes having articulating jaws, they present a dragon-like appearance.
   Masks have long been used in military connections. A war mask will have a malevolent expression or hideously fantastic features to instill fear in the enemy. The ancient Greeks and Romans used battle shields with grotesque masks or attached terrifying masks to their armour, as did the Chinese warrior. Grimacing menpo, or mask helmets, were used by Japanese samurai.
   Many sports require the use of masks. Some of these are merely functional, protective devices such as the masks worn by fencers, baseball catchers, or even skiers. To protect their faces in sports events and tournaments of arms, horsemen of the Roman army attached highly decorative and symbolic masks to their helmets.
   Perhaps the earliest use of masks was in connection with hunting. Disguise masks were seemingly used in the early Stone Age in stalking prey and later to house the slain animal's spirit in the hope of placating it. The traditional animal masks worn by the Altaic and Tungusic shamans in Siberia are strictly close to such prehistoric examples as the image of the so-called sorcerer in the Cave of Les Trois Frères in Ariège, France.

   Since agricultural societies first appeared in prehistory, the mask has been widely used for fertility rituals. The Iroquois, for instance, used corn husk masks at harvest rituals to give thanks for and to achieve future abundance of crops. Perhaps the most renowned of the masked fertility rites held by American Indians are those still performed by the Hopi and Zuni Indians of the Southwest U.S. Together with masked dancers representing clouds, rain spirits, stars, Earth Mother, sky god, and others, the shaman takes part in elaborate ceremonies designed to assure crop fertility.
   Spirits called kachinas, who first brought rain to the Pueblo tribes, are said to have left their masks behind when sent to dwell in the bottom of a desert lake. Their return to help bring the rain is incarnated by the masked dancer. Cylindrical masks, covering the entire head and resting on the shoulders, are of a primal type. They are made of leather and humanized by the addition of hair and a variety of adjuncts. Eyes are represented by incisions or by buckskin balls filled with deer hair and affixed to the mask. The nose is often of rolled buckskin or corncob.
   Frequently the mask has a projecting wooden cylinder for a bill or a gourd stem cut with teeth for a snout. Horns are attached to some masks. Many colours are used in their painting; plumes and beads are attached, and the sex of the mask is distinguished by its shape: round head indicates male and square indicates female. In the western Sudan area of Africa many tribes have masked fertility ceremonials. The segoni-kun masks that are fashioned by the Bambara tribes in Mali are aesthetically among the most interesting.
   Antelopes, characterized by their elegant simplicity, are carved in wood and affixed to woven fiber caps that are hung with raffia and cover the wearer. The antelope is believed to have introduced agriculture, and so when crops are sown, members of Tji-wara society cavort in the fields in pairs to symbolize fertility and abundance.

Festive Uses
   Masks for festive occasions are still commonly used in the 20th century. Ludicrous, grotesque, or superficially horrible, festival masks are usually conducive to good-natured license, release from inhibitions, and ribaldry. These include the Halloween, Mardi Gras, or “masked ball” variety. The disguise is assumed to create a momentary, amusing character, often resulting in humorous confusions, or to achieve anonymity for the prankster or ribald reveler.
   Throughout contemporary Europe and Latin America, masks are associated with folk festivals, especially those generated by seasonal changes or marking the beginning and end of the year. Among the most famous of the folk masks are the masks worn to symbolize the driving away of winter in parts of Austria and Switzerland. In Mexico and Guatemala, annual folk festivals employ masks for storytelling and caricature, such as for the Dance of the Old Men and the Dance of the Moors and the Christians. The Eskimo make masks with comic or satiric features that are worn at festivals of merrymaking, as do the Ibos of Nigeria.

Theatrical Uses Of Masks
   Masks have been used almost universally to represent characters in theatrical performances. Theatrical performances are a visual literature of a transient, momentary kind. It is most impressive because it can be seen as a reality; it expends itself by its very revelation. The mask participates as a more enduring element, since its form is physical.
   The mask as a device for theatre first emerged in Western civilization from the religious practices of ancient Greece. In the worship of Dionysus, god of fecundity and the harvest, the communicants' attempt to impersonate the deity by donning goatskins and by imbibing wine eventually developed into the sophistication of masking. When a literature of worship appeared, a disguise, which consisted of a white linen mask hung over the face (a device supposedly initiated by Thespis, a 6th-century-BC poet who is credited with originating tragedy), enabled the leaders of the ceremony to make the god manifest. Thus symbolically identified, the communicant was inspired to speak in the first person, thereby giving birth to the art of drama.
   In Greece the progress from ritual to ritual-drama was continued in highly formalized theatrical representations. Masks used in these productions became elaborate headpieces made of leather or painted canvas and depicted an extensive variety of personalities, ages, ranks, and occupations. Heavily coiffured and of a size to enlarge the actor's presence, the Greek mask seems to have been designed to throw the voice by means of a built-in megaphone device and, by exaggeration of the features, to make clear at a distance the precise nature of the character.

   Moreover, their use made it possible for the Greek actors—who were limited by convention to three speakers for each tragedy—to impersonate a number of different characters during the play simply by changing masks and costumes. Details from frescoes, mosaics, vase paintings, and fragments of stone sculpture that have survived to the present day provide most of what is known of the appearance of these ancient theatrical masks. The tendency of the early Greek and Roman artists to idealize their subjects throws doubt, however, upon the accuracy of these reproductions. In fact, some authorities maintain that the masks of the ancient theatre were crude affairs with little aesthetic appeal.
   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-mâché, 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.
   The 15th-century Renaissance in Italy witnessed the rise of a theatrical phenomenon that spread rapidly to France, to Germany, and to England, where it maintained its popularity into the 18th century. Comedies improvised from scenarios based upon the domestic dramas of the ancient Roman comic playwrights Plautus (254?–184 BC) and Terence (186/185–159 BC) and upon situations drawn from anonymous ancient Roman mimes flourished under the title of commedia dell'arte.

   Adopting the Roman stock figures and situations to their own usage's, the players of the commedia were usually masked. Sometimes the masking was grotesque and fanciful, but generally a heavy leather mask, full or half face, disguised the commedia player. Excellent pictorial records of both commedia costumes and masks exist; some sketches show the characters of Arlecchino and Colombina wearing black masks covering merely the eyes, from which the later masquerade mask is certainly a development.
   Except for vestiges of the commedia in the form of puppet and marionette shows, the drama of masks all but disappeared in Western theatre during the 18th, 19th, and first half of the 20th centuries. In modern revivals of ancient Greek plays, masks have occasionally been employed, and such highly symbolic plays as Die versunkene Glocke (The Sunken Bell; 1897) by the German Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946) and dramatizations of Alice in Wonderland have required masks for the performers of grotesque or animal figures.
   The Irish poet-playwright W.B. Yeats (1865–1939) revived the convention in his Dreaming of the Bones and in other plays patterned upon the Japanese No drama. In 1926 theatre goers in the United States witnessed a memorable use of masks in The Great God Brown by the American dramatist Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953), wherein actors wore masks of their own faces to indicate changes in the internal and external lives of their characters. Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943), a German artist associated with the Bauhaus, became interested in the late 1920s and '30s in semantic phenomenology as applied to the design of masks for theatrical productions.

   Modern art movements are often reflected in the design of contemporary theatrical masks. The stylistic concepts of Cubism and Surrealism, for example, are apparent in the masks executed for a 1957 production of La favola del figlio cambiato (The Fable of the Transformed Son) by
the Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936). A well-known mid-century play using masks was Les Nègres (1958; The Blacks, 1960) by the French writer Jean Genet. The mask, however, has unquestionably lost its importance as a theatrical convention in the 20th century, and its appearance in modern plays is unusual.
   In many ways akin to Greek drama in origin and theme, the No drama of Japan has remained a significant part of national life since its beginnings in the 14th century. No masks, of which there are about 125 named varieties, are rigidly traditional and are classified into five general types: old persons (male and female), gods, goddesses, devils, and goblins. The material of the No mask is wood with a coating of plaster, which is lacquered and gilded. Colours are traditional.
   White is used to characterize a corrupt ruler; red signifies a righteous man; a black mask is worn by the villain, who epitomizes violence and brutality. No masks are highly stylized and generally characterized. They are exquisitely carved by highly respected artists known as tenka-ichi, “the first under heaven.” Shades of feeling are portrayed with beautifully sublimated realism. When the masks are subtly moved by the player's hand or body motion, their expression appears to change.

   In Tibet, sacred dramas are performed by masked lay actors. A play for exorcising demons called the “Dance of the Red Tiger Devil” is performed at fixed seasons of the year exclusively by the priests or lamas wearing awe-inspiring masks of deities and demons. Masks employed in this mystery play are made of papier-mâché, cloth, and occasionally gilt copper. In the Indian state of Sikkim and in Bhutan, where wood is abundant and the damp climate is destructive to paper, they are carved of durable wood. All masks of the Himalayan peoples are fantastically painted and are usually provided with wigs of yak tail in various colours. Formally they often emphasize the hideous.
   Masks, usually made of papier-mâché, are employed in the religious or admonitory drama of China; but for the greater part the actors in popular or secular drama make up their faces with cosmetics and paint to resemble masks, as do the Kabuki actors in Japan. The makeup mask both identifies the particular character and conveys his personality. The highly didactic sacred drama of China is performed with the actors wearing fanciful and grotesque masks. Akin to this “morality” drama are the congratulatory playlets, pageants, processions, and dances of China. Masks employed in these ceremonies are highly ornamented, with jeweled and elaborately filigreed headgears.
   In the lion and dragon dances of both China and Japan, a stylized mask of the beast is carried on a pole by itinerant players, whose bodies are concealed by a dependent cloth. The mask and cloth are manipulated violently, as if the animal were in pursuit, to the taps of a small drum. The mask's lower jaw is movable and made to emit a loud continuous clacking by means of a string.
   On Java and Bali, wooden masks, tupeng, are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang wong. These dance dramas developed from the shadow puppet plays of the 18th century and are performed not only as amusement but as a safeguard against calamities. The stories are in part derived from ancient Sanskrit literature, especially the Hindu epics, although the Javanese later became Muslims.

   The brightly painted masks are made of wood and leather and are often fitted with horsehair and metallic or gilded paper accoutrements. They are ordinarily held in the teeth by means of a strap of leather or rattan that has been fastened across the inside. Occasionally an actor interrupts the unseen narrator, the Dalang, who is speaking the play. The mask is then held in
front of the face while the player says his line. The use of theatrical masks in Java is exceptional, since masks, being forbidden under the prohibition of images, are practically unknown in the Islamic world.
   In the 20th century, with the breaking down of primitive and folk cultures, the mask has increasingly become a decorative object, although it has long been used in art as an ornamental device. In Haiti, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, and Mexico, masks are produced largely for tourists. The collecting of old masks has been a part of the current interest in so-called primitive and folk arts. Masks also have exerted a decided influence on modern art movements, especially in the first decades of the 20th century, when painters in France and Germany found a source of inspiration in the tribal masks of Africa and western Oceania.


    Each Halloween there are many classic themes people use to inspire their costume choice, but every year there are some that stand out from the rest.
   This year Halloween spending is projected to rise 9 percent to $6.86 billion, according to a survey conducted by BIGResearch on behalf of the National Retail Federation trade group. There are two reasons for the increase: More Americans are celebrating the holiday, and more American adults are dressing up in costumes as part of the fun. Based on the survey, it is expected Americans will spend $1 billion on costumes this year. 
   As consumers put more focus on finding the right costume, there has been a trend to “mash up” or create unique costumes by blending elements from several existing costumes.
   For those who are either too time-pressed or not as creative to create their own costumes, don’t worry. There are plenty of costume manufacturers putting fresh twists on old themes. They find just the right elements to be recognizable, while freshening up the concept to make it look like something never seen before.
   Pirates of all kinds are very popular right now among all age groups. This pirate costume, manufactured by Roma, is a perfect example of how the right elements—boots, swords, and hats—can be used to establish the theme, but the style of the costume and the material it’s made of provide a unique twist.
   Although pirates are a very traditional Halloween theme, they have become more popular in the wake of moves such as Walt Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Retro Movies

   Movies provide much of the inspiration for Halloween costumes each year, but this year there are quite a few costumes that draw inspiration from older movies.
   One example is this Miss Scissorhands costume, which taps into several trends. It is inspired by the 1990 film “Edward Scissorhands,” which was directed by Tim Burton and starred Johnny Depp. It also has a dark, gothic look, which is also popular at the moment.
   Other older movies that are inspiring costumes this year include the 1983 film "Flashdance" and the 1984 film "Ghostbusters."

Alice in Wonderland

   Tim Burton’s movies continue to inspire many Halloween looks. Since the debut of his version of “Alice in Wonderland” last year, the Alice theme has been popular not only for Halloween, but also during the year as a theme for parties.
   There are many different versions of the Alice, Mad Hatter, and Queen of Hearts costumes sold by different manufacturers.

Charlie Sheen

   Do you have one speed, one gear, go? Perhaps you can dress up like a “total bitchin’ rock star from Mars” this Halloween. You’ll have company.
   Major media events often provide inspiration for Halloween, and Charlie Sheen’s meltdown was particularly spectacular.
   There are plenty of ways people will be putting together Sheen characters. Some will interpret Sheen’s catch phrases, while others will mimic him. To help pull the costume together, there are masks and wigs, even bowling shirts, Fedora hats, sunglasses and shirts that say “Winning.” Adding a “Goddess” on each arm can’t hurt either, but I’m afraid the Tiger Blood is sold separately.

Couples Costumes
   Another popular trend this Halloween is couples costumes. Manufacturers are creating more “his and hers” costumes that have a decidedly sexier vibe than traditional pairings.
   This “Major League” costume,  is one good example. Much of the interest in this costume will come from people who are looking to dress up like Charlie Sheen in an offbeat way. Sheen played baseball pitcher Ricky Vaughn in the 1989 movie about a fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians.


   The flesh eaters may outnumber the blood suckers this year, as the desire to be “undead” is, er, alive and well this Halloween. We are definitely in the midst of a zombie craze.
   Luckily, consumers will find there is no shortage of zombie costumes. They range from the traditional blood and gore zombies dressed in rags to other costumes that basically take a traditional costume theme and turn it into a zombie. Think, a Zombie police officer, or a Zombie girl in her pajamas, or even the Prom King and Prom Queen.
   There are plenty of reasons for this trend, including AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a television series about zombies, as well as popular videogames such as “Left 4 Dead.” There are costumes based on the TV series, which centers on a small group of survivors, led by Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes and his family.

Royal Wedding

   Let’s face it: We don’t always have a royal wedding to gawk at. So it should come as no surprise there are costumes that will have you looking like the royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton, on their big day.
   The outrageous hats of wedding guests Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie also may inspire some do-it-yourself costumes this year.

Disgraced Politicians

   Vinyl masks have largely fallen out of favor, said Cheryl Kerzner, vice president of Design & Marketing at Jakks Pacific’s Disguise unit.
   According to Kerzner, this is mostly because people want to go to parties and eat and drink without having to remove their costume. For this reason, costumes with half-masks are gaining in popularity and manufacturers such as Disguise are making more of these designs.
   That said, the recent exploits of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will likely inspire some to dust off their Schwarzenegger mask.
   Disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal also is sure to provide plenty of fodder for costumes.
   And the jury is still out on whether Casey Anthony will be a popular Halloween costume. A controversy was sparked earlier this year when a mask depicting Anthony, who was acquitted of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee, sparked a bidding war on eBay.

Katy Perry

   After making headlines with her meat costume, Lady Gaga became one of the hottest themes for Halloween costumes last year. No doubt there will be plenty of “little monsters” out and about this year dressed in both homemade Lady Gaga apparel, as well as in store-bought versions. Even domestic doyenne Martha Stewart appears to be channeling Gaga on the cover of her Halloween issue this year.
   One of the more popular takes on the Lady Gaga theme this year could be the Jo Calderone outfit that she wore to MTV's Video Music Award Show. Don a greaser wig, a white T-shirt, and a leather jacket, and you're almost there.
   Still, there will likely be some competition this year from singer Katy Perry. There are two main costumes that stores will be selling that were inspired by Perry’s “California Gurls” video.

Bridget by Roma

   This year, Roma teamed with Bridget Marquardt, star of E! Television’s reality television series “The Girls Next Door,” to create a line of high-end Halloween costumes. Most of the costumes in the line sell for more than $100, which is a bit higher than Roma’s typical pricing.
   Pictured here is a French Maid costume, but the Bridget by Roma line includes 17 costumes with themes such as a mermaid, a ringmaster, and even a bachelor costume that plays off of the idea of Hugh Hefner’s red robe.
   As more young adults wear Halloween costumes to parties, there is greater demand for higher-end costumes, according to Sam Fard, president and head designer of Roma.
   “They are willing to spend more,” Fard said. “They are worried about how they are going to look…and they want something that catches the eye.”

Angry Birds

   Without a doubt, one of the best-selling costumes this Halloween for both children and adults are the ones based on the characters in the Angry Birds game, according to Halloween costume retailers.
   According to Halloween Express spokesman Brad Butler, manufacturers were scrambling to get the Angry Birds costumes to retailers in time for Halloween. Judging by sales, it looks like it was worth the effort.
   “There is a lot of interest in the funnier stuff,” Butler said. “In particular, the Angry Bird costumes. It caught us by surprise.”
   There are Angry Bird costumes for all age groups, but adults can pick from either a costume that covers their body, or a mask that covers their head.

Harry Potter

   With the release of the final “Harry Potter” movie, there will likely be many Potter fans dressing up as their favorite characters. This is especially true for young adults, who have grown up with the series.
   Not only are there Harry costumes in various forms, but other characters such as the evil Lord Voldemort, the Death Eater, the Tree Man and the Dementor are also well represented. The costumes also vary from ones that are fairly standard issue Gryffindor Robes to more adult-takes on Potter theme.

Mad Men

   What's a “Mad Men” fan to do while pining away waiting for the show to return to the air? Dress up like characters on the show perhaps? If this idea appeals to you, you're in luck. The Mad Men Show site has a guide to creating the perfect Mad Men costume
   Some of the tips: For those dressing as Joan Holloway, choose a bright bold color. If you're more of a Betty, it advises that you must get the hair just right, and even walks you through how to style it.
   As for Don Draper, it's all about how you hold the cigarette, lighter and glass.
   You can even do a gory Mad Men costume. How? Remember Guy McKendrick's accident at the office party? The site advises, "You'll need a light suit, a sliced-up wingtip, and lots of fake blood."


   The original morphsuits were made in solid colors, but now they can be found in many different patterns including flag patterns, a rainbow tie-dye version, black and white check, and several styles specifically for Halloween, among others.
   The Halloween morphsuits are styled after popular holiday themes such as Frankenstein, witches, vampires and pumpkins.   
   Despite their all-in-one coverage, the company says it is easy to breathe, see and even drink through the Lycra.

The Black Swan

   Some costume retailers are reporting strong sales of tutu skirts. The leagues of would-be ballerinas are probably being inspired by actress Natalie Portman and her role in last year’s “The Black Swan” movie.
   If you’re not up for creating your own Black Swan costume there is this one, with jewel accents and a feathered tail and headpiece.


   Where else would you find one of the most haunted places in the world?  L'Agulhas, the last little village situated at the southern most tip of the African continent boasts sightings of the phantom ship "The Flying Dutchman" that has inspired poets, novelists and dramatists, including Wagner's opera "Der fliengende Hollander" and most recently the Hollywood block-buster "Pirates of the Caribbean".
    All based on stories retold by fearful seafarers as far back as the first half of the seventeenth century, who have had the misfortune to encounter her blood red sails and ghostly rigging, captained by the Devil's advocate Van der Decken, who lashed himself to the ship's wheel during a howling gale, ignoring his petrified crew's please to ride out the storm and give up his obsession to round the Cape of Storms. Rigging was stripped from the ship's masts, sails lost and the decks became slippery with the incessant crashing of the angry waves purging and dispersing with incessant mountainous swells that dwarfed the floundering craft. The manic Captain is said to have raised his fist heavenward, cursing the Creator out loud, saying that even God would not force him to change his mind as he'd made a pact with the Devil and that he was on his side. Suddenly a shaft of holy light was seen streaking from the rolling, black clouds, lighting up the deck before Van der Decken.

   The terrified crew trembled, as there before their Captain was the incredible sight of the Holy Ghost stepping onto the deck out of the shaft of light. At the sight of the holy apparition, Van der Decken drew his pistol from his belt and fired. Instantly his arm withered and the Holy Ghost pointed his glowing finger at the incensed captain saying, " Van der Decken, you have defied God's wrath and now you and your crew shall sail the seas of the Benguela and Agulhas currents forever! You will never sail on calm waters, only waters swollen with the rage of gale force winds. Your thirst and hunger will be that of a castaway trapped in the Sahara desert. From now and for eternity, you and your ship shall bring misfortune on all who sight you. The Flying Dutchman shall be a pariah and all living men shall turn sail and flee at the sight of you!"
    There are two hundred and fifty known shipwrecks off the coastline of L'Agulhas, - some dating back to the times of the early Portuguese exploring seafarers. To the locals, it is known as "The Graveyard of Ships" and understandably a traveller's ultimate destination for ghostly encounters of drowned sailors or unfortunate castaways who survived the sinking of their ship, only to crawl onto the desolate shores of the Cape

Agulhas region and die a lonely death. Local fishermen are renowned for their ghostly tales which are retold to their wide-eyed children around smoky fires on cold and blustery nights where the calls of the sirens can be heard singing the crews and their ships towards the jaws of the sharp rocks jutting angrily from the frothing waves.
Originally L'Agulhas was named "Cabo das Agulhas". Translated, this means "Cape of Needles" and refers to the compass needle on ships and other seafaring craft. Here, at the southern most tip of Africa, no compass needle shows any significant difference between true north and magnetic north. This is the point on the African continent where the Atlantic and Indian oceans hurl themselves at one another like furious maelstroms. No wonder this is named the "Cape of Storms" and has struck fear into ancient mariners for centuries. The cold Benguela current that flows in from Atlantic and the warm Agulhas current carried from the Indian Ocean mingle at the southern most tip of Africa, L'Agulhas. Sometimes these currents reach as far as Cape Point. There is a cairn marking the southernmost point of the African continent where people from all over the world can be seen having their photographs taken to take home as a memento of their visit to the quaint little fishing village of L'Agulhas and the southern most tip of Africa.

For visitors to L'Agulhas who enjoy the challenge of a two hour hiking trail and want to take the chance of perhaps encountering one or two of the more friendly local ghosts, they can walk the "Spook Draai", (Ghosts Corner) trail. Of course, the origin of Spook Draai is as illusive as the surety of any ghost sightings. One of the phantoms of the area is a beautiful young woman who is said to have the voice of an Angel and the most exquisite slender hands. She was the survivor of a shipwreck and was washed up on shore. Later she moved into one of the many limestone caves that can be found along the Spook Draai trail where sadly she died a solitary death. However, she is not yet at rest and being of a gregarious nature, often visits the Agulhas Country Lodge and surrounding residencies with the wish for human contact. There have also been recent sightings of a headless man who walks the road at the entrance to L'Agulhas on mist shrouded nights, scaring the life out of people driving home from local restaurants and pubs.
    Spook Draai is a well demarcated circular route, intended to be walked in only one direction as indicated by the markers. You can start the trail by walking in the direction of L'Agulhas village. In all, there are twenty eight markers and for the benefit oft the hiker, these points of interest are marked along the route. Before taking the hike, it is advised to collect a Spook Draai booklet from the tourism bureau which is situated at the L'Agulhas lighthouse. This booklet contains brief descriptions of each vantage point. Be sure to wear sensible hiking shoes and watch out for snakes, especially spring and summer...or you may become one of the Spook Draai ghostly statistics!