The Sacred Mask

Titus Burckhardt

The more the expression of a mask is latent and immobile, the more it is living in its play: each gesture of the actor will make it speak; each movement, causing the light to glide over its features, will reveal a new aspect of the mask; it is like a sudden vision of a depth or of an abyss of the soul.

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Originally published in Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 14, No. 1 & 2 (Winter-Spring, 1980). Republished here with thanks.

This essay has also appeared in the book Foundations of Oriental Art & Symbolism (World Wisdom, 2009), from which this version is taken. The book also contains many useful illustrations which may be of interest to readers.