Unmasking Masks: Global Symbols of Ritual and Culture
Why We Recommend it
In this Royal Geographical Society talk, documentary photographer and National Geographic explorer Chris Rainier tells of the global tradition of tribal masks, captured through his visually-stunning photographs taken across six continents and over 30 years.
Through masks, Chris Rainier tells the story of indigenous and endangered cultures worldwide. Starting with the masks of New Guinea, where modernity threatened to erase some of the world’s most fascinating ancient rituals and cultures, he started a journey to find and photograph traditional masks that has taken him across six continents over the past 30 years.
The talk ranges from the masks found at initiation rituals in Burkina Faso in Africa to Bon Buddhist masks long hidden in a Nepalese monastery in the high Himalayas. He also shows the raven and bear regalia of North American First Nations, Nagaland’s tattooed head hunters and the terrifying, child-chasing Krampus masks of the Austrian Alps. It also includes Mongolian shamans, Bhutanese monks and mask-wearers from across five other continents. Accompanying these striking images are fascinating stories recounting Chris’s journeys to distant lands to celebrate these objects of beauty and power and the cultures that produce them.
Hailing from America, Rainier is the Director of the Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation, a global programme focused on legally preserving biodiversity and cultural heritage. He also served as a cultural editor and photographer for National Geographic Traveler magazine for over 18 years.