Domino mask

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A domino mask (from Latin dominus, "lord", and Medieval Latin masca, "specter") is a small, often rounded mask covering only the eyes and the space between them. The masks have seen special prevalence since the 18th century, where they have become traditional wear in particular local manifestations of Carnival, particularly with Venetian Carnival. Domino masks have found their way into a variety of high and popular art forms.


The name in use to describe this partial mask derives from the Latin for dominus, for "lord" or "master",[1] combined with the word mask (itself deriving from medieval Latin masca, for "specter" or "nightmare").[2] Masks of this type became known as domini because they resembled French priests' winter hoods, which were white on the inside and black on the outside.[1]


Domino masks are worn during Carnival, e.g. at the Venetian Carnival, where it was the part of the more extensive black (though occasionally white and blue) domino costume worn by both male and female participants, which accomplished the requirement of the masquerade that participants be masked or otherwise disguised, and achieved the elements of adventure, conspiracy, intrigue, and mystery that were distinctives of the masquerade atmosphere; the costume included the mask, as well as a cloak to envelope the body, and sometimes a hood (bahoo).[3][4]

The domino mask has also found its way into the political landscapes of non-Western cultures via political cartooning, though likely through the earlier influences of popular (and therefore exported) 18th century and later European and American purveyors of the same genre:[5] for instance, Johnny Hidajat, the Indonesian New Order cartoonist (e.g., for Pos Kota and Stop in Jakarta) consistently features the character Djon Domino, and a relationship between this character and the domino mask has been argued.[5]

In art[edit]

Gervex's 1885 portrait of Marie Renard in a domino mask, La Femme au Masque.

Domino masks have appeared in various images in art. The image at right is La Femme au Masque, a painting by Henri Gervex in 1885. The subject is 22-year old Parisienne Marie Renard wearing only a domino mask.

The mask is popular in superhero comics, where it is often worn by costumed heroes and villains,[6] or by earlier hero tropes such as Zorro, The Lone Ranger, and the Green Hornet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Domino", Online Etymology Dictionary (accessed June 3, 2016)
  2. ^ E.g., see "mask" at Online Etymology, [1], accessed 13 October 2014.
  3. ^ Aileen Ribiero, 1984, The Dress Worn at Masquerades in England 1730 to 1790 (New York, NY:Garland Published), pp. 3, 29.
  4. ^ Terry Castle, 1986, Masquerade and Civilization: the Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), p. 59.
  5. ^ a b Benedict R. O'g Anderson, 1991, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, Cornell Press, pp. 157, 163, 167-170, ISBN 0801423546, see also ISBN 9793780401, [2], accessed 24 October 2014.
  6. ^ (May 16, 2011), "So Many Masks," Comics in Crisis (accessed June 3, 2016)

External links[edit]

  • "La bottega dei Mascareri" (The workshop of Mascareri/the Mask-makers), see [3], accessed 13 October 2014.
  • "Student Project:General Commonalities in the Masquerade," see [4], accessed 13 October 2014.
  • "History of Venetian Masks," at Masks of Venice retail site, see [5], accessed 13 October 2014.