German Scold’s Mask, Schandmaske, 17th C
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The scold’s mask, or "Mask of Shame", was widely used in the 17th Century and into the 18th Century as a form of punishment to ridicule perpetrators of relatively minor crimes. Such crimes included blasphemy, gluttony, piggish behavior, gossip, being a nagging wife, and other forms of socially unacceptable behavior. Generally no two are alike and each exhibits features which indicate the type of offense committed. For example, masks with long tongues indicate the person was a gossip, nag, or committed some other form of verbal offense. Big ears indicated a busy-body who liked to eavesdrop. A large pig nose, such as that found on this example, indicated the person was guilty of piggish behavior. Some mask styles were intended for women, while others were for men. This mask was likely made for men, due to its large size and the pig snout. It is entirely of forged iron, with large round eyes, large pig ears, a feathered crest on top, and of course the large pig snout. There is no tongue or mouth piece of any kind. Three hinged straps on the back join together with the collar for fastening a padlock. The metal shows great age and encrustation from corrosion, but is completely sound. These masks are quite rare today and each one is unique. Length 17 1/2", width 11", height 14 1/2", weight 6 1/2 pounds.
- Tuckasegee, North Carolina
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- 17th C
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