Collection online

mask / coin

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Eu1971,01.316

  • Description

    Mask, in the form of a tall hood, decorated with a man's face. The hood formed of black felted wool embroidered in cotton and silk (?) and applied with glass and plastic beads, rick-rack, metal-wrapped thread, sequins, mirrors, buttons and Turkish coins. Coloured paper streamers hang from the top of the hood, which is decorated at the sides with waxed paper flowers and roses made of red polyurethane foam.
    The three mirrors (to deflect evil spirits) are placed above the face and either side of the nose. Three coins are sewn at the top of the hood, and one between the eyebrows. The openings for the eyes and mouth are lined with red woollen cloth. The silver beads are glass, as are the pale green beads surrounding the upper mirror, the small black plaited beads immediately below this, and the multicoloured beads above the eyebrows. Between these beads is a row of pale green oblong plastic beads; the large pink beads below the face are also plastic. The sequins possibly laminated plastic. At the base of the hood hangs a silvered metal head ornament attached at centre and sides, the central element with a row of birds and dangling chains, flanked by multiple chains with leaf-shaped pendants.
    The back of the hood is covered with printed cotton fabrics. Holding the paper streamers in place are, at the top, a white matel coil, and below, two chains, the upper one of white metal with pearlised glass beads, the lower one of gilded-metal.

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  • Date

    • 1970-1971
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 100 centimetres (approx, with streamers)
    • Height: 115 centimetres (Storage box height)
    • Width: 37 centimetres (Storage box width)
    • Depth: 33 centimetres (Storage box depth)
  • Curator's comments

    Text from Eth Doc 1836 (entry 316): 'This "kukeri" mask consists of a high hood of red cloth decorated with beads, galloons and an appliqué featuring a man's head. This mask is worn with a costume consisting of a white shirt, a woman's jacket, a gathered skirt, man's trousers and a waist-band with bells, of different sizes. The 'kukeri' gather in groups and visit the houses to wish everybody happiness and luck. Beginning of the C20th.'

    There are two main types of masquerade in Bulgaria. The older tradition (syrvaskary), found largely in the western part of the country, uses masks in the form of animals, which are made of the skins and feathers of wild animals. They are created and worn by unmarried men in midwinter or New Year festivals to promote the fertility of the animals which are hunted.
    The second masking tradition (kukeri), to which this example belongs, is concerned with productive farming, both crops and livestock. It occurs in spring, typically on Shrove Tuesday in eastern, central and south-eastern Bulgaria. The masks from this area are often made from the fur and feathers of farm animals and have human features; this example has a nose, mouth and eyes. Bells are worn by the performers to frighten away the devil and encourage agricultural fertility. Five maskers dressed as 'spinsters', a 'grandmother', a 'bride' and the 'devil' visit different houses in turn to wish the occupants good fortune. They also beat onlookers with swords. This is believed to ensure the fertility or good health of those struck.

    Information supplementary to Eth Doc:
    For a similar kukeri mask in the Ethnographic Museum, Sofia, see Nadezhda Teneva and Tsvetanka Manova, 'Between this world and the world beyond: Bulgarioan mummers' plays and masks', Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 2012, p. 48, form Yanbol region, South-East Bulgaria.
    For further discussion of this mask, see C. Ward, N. Rode, M. Hacke and J. Rudoe,'A Bulgarian kukeri mask: a diplomatic gift and the conservation of its polyeurethane roses', British Museum Technical Research Bulletin, vol.7, 2013, pp. 31-40.

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  • Location

    Not on display

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1971

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    Eu1971,01.316

Mask, in the form of a tall hood, decorated with a man's face. The hood formed of black felted wool embroidered in cotton and silk (?) and applied with glass and plastic beads, rick-rack, metal-wrapped thread, sequins, mirrors, buttons and Turkish coins. Coloured paper streamers hang from the top of the hood, which is decorated at the sides with waxed paper flowers and roses made of red polyurethane foam.        The three mirrors (to deflect evil spirits) are placed above the face and either side of the nose. Three coins are sewn at the top of the hood, and one between the eyebrows. The openings for the eyes and mouth are lined with red woollen cloth. The silver beads are glass, as are the pale green beads surrounding the upper mirror, the small black plaited beads immediately below this, and the multicoloured beads above the eyebrows. Between these beads is a row of pale green oblong plastic beads; the large pink beads below the face are also plastic. The sequins possibly laminated plastic. At the base of the hood hangs a silvered metal head ornament attached at centre and sides, the central element with a row of birds and dangling chains, flanked by multiple chains with leaf-shaped pendants.         The back of hood covered with pirnted cotton fabrics. Holding the paper streamers in place are, at the top, a white matel coil, and below, two chains, the upper one of white metalk with pearlised glass beads, the lower one of gilded-metal.

Mask, in the form of a tall hood, decorated with a man's face. The hood formed of black felted wool embroidered in cotton and silk (?) and applied with glass and plastic beads, rick-rack, metal-wrapped thread, sequins, mirrors, buttons and Turkish coins. Coloured paper streamers hang from the top of the hood, which is decorated at the sides with waxed paper flowers and roses made of red polyurethane foam. The three mirrors (to deflect evil spirits) are placed above the face and either side of the nose. Three coins are sewn at the top of the hood, and one between the eyebrows. The openings for the eyes and mouth are lined with red woollen cloth. The silver beads are glass, as are the pale green beads surrounding the upper mirror, the small black plaited beads immediately below this, and the multicoloured beads above the eyebrows. Between these beads is a row of pale green oblong plastic beads; the large pink beads below the face are also plastic. The sequins possibly laminated plastic. At the base of the hood hangs a silvered metal head ornament attached at centre and sides, the central element with a row of birds and dangling chains, flanked by multiple chains with leaf-shaped pendants. The back of hood covered with pirnted cotton fabrics. Holding the paper streamers in place are, at the top, a white matel coil, and below, two chains, the upper one of white metalk with pearlised glass beads, the lower one of gilded-metal.

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Object reference number: EEU696

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