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HomeArchaeologyMask or Masquerade? Skeptic Totally ‘Trashes’ Magical Pagan Masks

Mask or Masquerade? Skeptic Totally ‘Trashes’ Magical Pagan Masks

For over six a long time, it was believed that two wood objects found in Opole, Poland have been pagan Slavic masks utilized in mystical ceremonies held in cemetery woods. However, current analysis by a Polish professor challenges this dogmatic interpretation and suggests they have been merely discarded waste.

Demystifying Ancient Magic Masks

In the Sixties, Polish archaeologists uncovered a medieval fortress within the metropolis of Opole on the Oder River, which was as soon as the capital of Upper Silesia. Two wood objects have been discovered and considered “ritual masks” utilised by Slavs throughout clandestine Pagan celebrations.

Professor Kamil Kajkowski leads the artwork and historical past division on the West Kashubian Museum in Bytów, Poland. In 2021, Kajkowski printed his findings within the journal Archeologia Polski .” The scientist not solely downplayed the paranormal significance of the alleged “masks”, however he went as far as to categorise them as mere garbage.

Measuring Up Controversy

The first of the 2 wood ‘masks’ was a crafted pine board measuring roughly 34 centimeters (nearly 13.5 inches) in size, and 20 centimeters (7.87 in) at its widest, with various thickness between 3.7 to five.3 centimeters (1.45 to 2.08 in).

This masks was present in a rubbish layer sandwiched between two Eleventh-century buildings. Upon discovery of this artifact, archaeologist Helena Cehak-Hołubowiczowa acknowledged holes within the board as resembling eyes and a mouth, and a line down the middle as an outline of a nostril. She has definitely acquired a degree. But was this one other case of pareidolia – seeing faces the place they don’t deliberately exist?

The second, smaller artifact was product of birch and measured 22.86 centimeters (9 in) size and 17.78 centimeters (7 in) at its widest. This artifact was found in a Twelfth-century constructing, the within of was sanded easy, and it additionally had three holes, and it was interpreted equally to the primary by Cehak-Hołubowiczowa, as a pagan masks.

Left, Opole-Ostrówek, wooden “mask” from the 3rd quarter of the 11th century. Right, modern reproduction of the same. Sławomir Uta/ Kamil Kajkowski, “Masks from Opole in the context of Medieval Slavic rites”, (Archaeologia Polski 66, 2021, fig.11/CC BY 4.0)

Left, Opole-Ostrówek, wood “mask” from the third quarter of the Eleventh century. Right, trendy replica of the identical. Sławomir Uta/ Kamil Kajkowski, “Masks from Opole in the context of Medieval Slavic rites”, (Archaeologia Polski 66, 2021, fig.11/ CC BY 4.0 )

Forbidden “Godless” Ancient Games

According to Haaretz, Helena Cehak-Hołubowiczowa believed the masks have been utilized in Christmas celebrations as a result of one of many masks was discovered close to two wood goat collectible figurines, and he or she recognized ethnographic accounts of Christmas customs and carols from Poland that lasted till the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

The widespread assumption is that in historical instances masks have been utilized in rituals to facilitate communication with the gods, spirits, and animals, however that is only a hypothesis. Professor Kamil Kajkowski factors out that there’s just one historic document from the time when the supposed masks have been made, which was written by Czech chronicler Kosmas in 1092 AD. Kosmas described a pagan funeral custom carried out in rural cemeteries and open fields, the place “godless video games” have been performed whereas carrying masks and invoking the spirits of the lifeless”.

Suppressing the Godless

Professor Kamil Kajkowski questions whether or not the masked performances in churchyards have been truly a continuation of pre-Christian rituals. He additionally requested whether or not the clergy who participated within the rituals understood the masks to have pagan significance or not. The researcher additionally raises questions on whether or not the rites described by Kosmas within the Eleventh century have been the identical that the church focused within the thirteenth century, and whether or not any of these rituals had something to do with the stronghold of Opole the place the masks have been discovered.

According to Kajkowski, throughout one other dig in Wrocław in 1985, two wood objects have been present in a pit between two buildings. These have been additionally interpreted as masks as a consequence of their similarity to the so-called “masks” from Opole, and their proximity to zoomorphic collectible figurines. However, Kajkowski argues that the situation of the objects in a rubbish layer and the absence of any technique of attaching the article to the face, “casts doubt on their identification as masks”.

When Magic Gets Totally Trashed

Kajkowski notes that if these two objects have been certainly masks they might have been cumbersome and would have impaired the wearer’s respiratory and imaginative and prescient. Furthermore, the researcher found that the supposed “nostril line” have been tunnels made by bark beetles. Kajkowski additional means that the objects might merely have been “toys or unfinished figurines discarded by a child or artist”.

Kajkowski concluded that the 2 well-known Polish objects, if not ritual masks, could possibly be odd gadgets utilized in each day life, such “as pieces of furniture, parts of toys, rocking horse seats, or work tools like a stool.” According to the researcher, simply because the precise function of the objects is unknown, it would not mechanically make them ceremonial gadgets, which he says is a standard mistake in archaeology, ie. if the aim is unknown, mark it as ‘ritual’.

Top picture: Opole-Ostrówek, wood “masks” from the mid-Twelfth century. (Karol Szott/Kamil Kajkowski, “Masks from Opole within the context of Medieval Slavic rites”, Archaeologia Polski 66, 2021, fig.3) Source: Archaeologia Polski/ CC BY 4.0

By Ashley Cowie


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