Traditions09 July 2021

Romanian traditional masks - the representations of an archaic world

The mask has always fascinated mankind. As in other cultures, the traditional masks used in the Romanian culture are very interesting and have deep meanings.

Romanian traditional masks

Romanian traditional masks

The masks are used in different traditions since ancient times, especially during Carnival. Beyond the fact that they can cause so much fear or laughter, the masks are the representations of an archaic world, whose roots lie in the traditional mentality.

The Romanian traditional masks represent real or imaginary animals, characters from the everyday or imaginary world. Mask are used in some customs, rituals or traditional dances, depending on the time of year and the popular calendar. Among the most famous masks, they are those used in winter traditions, such as the goat, the bear and the deer. These masks are often accompanied by a group of dancers who wear too this anthropomorphic masks, such as the elderly, doctors, policemen, priests, etc.

Wearing the mask can mean cover only the face or the whole body, depending on the size and the importance of the moment.Masks are also used in funeral rituals. Such a ritual dance, which is no longer used by the community, has been preserved by an artistic group, called Chipăşurul, and have the role to ward off the death.

In the period before Lent, it is well-known the carnivals of Caras-Severin. If in Italy it applies the saying ”A carnevale tutto vale”, in the town of Bania, there is the feast of the Horns (Sărbătoarea Cornilor), when the natural order of the world is turned upside down. For two days, the men of the village dress up and make a simulation of the wedding, with all its specific elements: the groom, the bride, guests who imitate Romanian and foreign celebrities. The picture of the wedding respects the whole wedding ritual, and the community is preparing for this moment with great emphasis.

Nowadays, there are craftsmen specialized in the art of Romanian traditional masks. They know the secrets of each character and the moment when it has to appear. The authorities in charge with the promotion and preservation of traditional forms of culture in Romania organized in 2013 an exhibition of traditional costumes and Romanian popular masks in Venice. The event took place during the famous Carnival of Venice and has been organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, at which people have had the opportunity to admire the Romanian masks and traditional clothing.


Romulus Vulcănescu, Măștile populare, București, Editura Științifică, 1980;

Eliana-Alina Popeți, Nunta Cornilor la Bănia, Timisiensis, nr. 1, 2014; 


Nunta Cornilor, Bănia, foto Constantin Duma;





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