This article focuses too much on specific examples without clearly discussing its abstract general subject. Please help by consulting secondary sources for general statements made about the subject and improving this article by adding more general information.(October 2014)
A domino mask, un masque domino (L. dominus, e.g., "lord", and medieval L. masca, e.g. "specter") is a small, often rounded mask covering only the eyes and the space between them. The masks likely date to antiquity, but have seen special prevalence since the 18th century, where they have become traditional wear in particular local manifestations of Carnival. The name is associated in particular with Venetian Carnival, deriving from the Latin in relation to domini, for their resemblance to the winter hoods of French priests, and were a part of a larger domino costume, often in black, and including cape and other features. Differentiation between domino and the more fully covering Columbina types of masks (also fully covering nose, and at least part of the cheeks) is not clearly delineated in the literature, and so there is some ambiguity in assigning masks between near categories. Even so, masks that are clearly of the domino type have found their way into a variety of high and popular art forms, and are associated with various intrigues and scandals in history. In popular culture, in a simple, rounded, unadorned black form, it is also sometimes known as a burglar or bandit mask.
The origin of the domino mask, covering the face in the limited way that it does, likely dates to antiquity,[speculation?] as partial masks of the Columbina type have been found in the first millennium BC in areas that are now modern Iran (see below). Since the 18th century, domino masks have been traditionally worn during the season of Carnival, e.g. at the Venetian Carnival.
The name in use to describe this partial mask derives from the Latin for dominus, for "lord" or "master", combined with the word mask (itself deriving from medieval Latin masca, for "specter" or "nightmare"). Masks of this type became known as domini because they resembled French priests' winter hoods, which were white on the inside and black on the outside.
As a small mask covering the eyes and space between them, the domino mask must be understood in the context of the long history of mask types and their purposes—e.g., practical and ceremonial, for protection, disguise, entertainment, and ritualistic and other performance—and, in particular, with regard to the coverage of the face that they accomplish toward each purposes. Differentiation between domino and the more fully covering Columbina types of masks, which covers like the domino but also fully covers the nose and at least part of the cheeks, is not clearly delineated in the literature; clear examples of domino masks only surround the eyes and cover the space in between them, though some masks that would still be considered of the domino type at least partially cover the nose, leaving the nostrils uncovered. Masks fully covering the nose begin to cover the cheeks as well, and fall under the Columbina type. Hence, there can be some ambiguity in assigning masks between these near categories.
However delineated, the domino mask type certainly encompasses some masquerade masks, which have substantial embellishment and decoration, and, as noted is a relative of the more covering Columbina type of masks. The Columbina, an often highly decorated uni-sex half-mask that covers the wearer's eyes, nose, and upper cheeks, is held to the face by a ribbon or by a baton; it is also a common mask at the Carnival of Venice. It is named after a stock character in the Commedia dell'arte, began as a woman's analog to the bauta, and is said to have been designed to satisfy an actress not wishing to have her face fully covered.[by whom?] However, as Willem Floor notes in his history of Persian and Iranian theatre, this type of mask dates to far older uses in ritual and religious use (see image).[page needed]
The uses of this type of mask are incompletely described,[clarification needed] but in covering the face in the limited way that it does, likely include mostly ceremonial uses, for disguise (including feigned), entertainment, and ritualistic and other performances.[speculation?] Partial types of facial masks date to ritual and religious uses prior to the birth of Christ (see above, and image).
Domino masks are worn during Carnival, e.g. at the Venetian Carnival, where it was the part of the more extensive black (though occasionally white and blue) domino costume worn by both male and female participants, which accomplished the requirement of the masquerade that participants be masked or otherwise disguise, and achieved the elements of adventure, conspiracy, intrigue, and mystery that were distinctives of the masquerade atmosphere; the costume included the mask, as well as a cloak to envelope the body, and sometimes a hood (bahoo).
The domino mask has also found its way into the political landscapes of non-Western cultures via political cartooning, though likely through the earlier influences of popular (and therefore exported) 18th century and later European and American purveyors of the same genre: for instance, Johnny Hidajat, the Indonesian New Order cartoonist (e.g., for Pos Kota and Stop in Jakarta) consistently features the character Djon Domino, and a relationship between this character and the domino mask has been argued.
While, as noted, the spectrum between domino and other partial types of masks is not always clearly delineated, masks of the domino type appear in various images in art, including Jacques Charles Denis Chartier's "Woman with a mask" (1775), Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta's "Lady with a Mask" (b. 1841, d. 1920), Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita's "Portrait of a Woman with a Mask and Hat (ca. 1899), and Max Pechstein's "The masked woman" (1910). A domino mask also appears in Gervex's late 19th century work, La Femme au Masque, where Parisienne mannequin Marie Renard is seen wearing un masque domino (see image), a nude work associated with a significant historical scandal (see below).
Fiction and its illustrations, e.g., by Robert Louis Stevenson and other well-known writers of writers of the 18th and early 19th century, make use of this type of mask.[who?][peacock term]
In comic books, a domino mask is used for a superhero/heroine wishing to maintain his/her secret identity; at the same time the mask actually obscures little of the facial features that make the character recognizable. For instance, the characters of the Lone Ranger and Zorro wear domino masks, as does the character Batman's sidekick, Robin. A domino mask was worn both by Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, as well as by successor Hal Jordan, in the Silver Age of comics, and became a distinctive feature in the costumes of many characters in this series.
Domino masks have been largely retained as comics have been adapted into television production and filmmaking; there, its use parallels the reasons it is used in comics, but it is also used as a signifier of further stereotypes.[speculation?] For instance, in some cartoons,[which?] a simple, unadorned, fully black domino mask is used in the attire of bank robbers or burglars, and this variation has become known as a burglar or bandit mask.
The La Femme au Masque affair involved Madame Camille du Gast, in relation to the 1885 painting of Henri Gervex, La Femme au Masque, see image above. The picture is of a model (name, never publicly disclosed) who stands naked apart from un masque domino concealing her face. The model's identity was the focus of great speculation and led to various accusations at the time;[vague] she was been reported to be Gervex's 22-year-old model, Marie Renard.[better source needed] The painting was considered notorious at the time, leading to behavior between observers and interested parties that gave rise to 3 discrete court cases in Paris in 1902.
^ abE.g., see "domino" at Online Etymology, , accessed 13 October 2014.
^E.g., see "mask" at Online Etymology, , accessed 13 October 2014.
^Willem M. Floor, 2005, The History of Theater in Iran (Washington, D.C.:Mage Publishers), ISBN 0-934211-29-9, see , accessed 13 October 2014.
^Aileen Ribiero, 1984, The Dress Worn at Masquerades in England 1730 to 1790 (New York, NY:Garland Published), pp. 3, 29.
^Terry Castle, 1986, Masquerade and Civilization: the Carnivalesque in Eighteenth-Century English Culture and Fiction (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), p. 59.
^ abBenedict R. O'g Anderson, 1991, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, Cornell Press, pp. 157, 163, 167-170, ISBN 0801423546, see also ISBN 9793780401, , accessed 24 October 2014.
^The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014, "The Collection Online," Jacques Charles Denis Chartier's "Woman with a mask" (1775), see , accessed 13 October 2014.
^The original designs for the wardrobe of the character Batman used a simple domino mask as part of his disguise, akin to that of Robin, but Batman co-creator Bill Finger suggested that Bob Kane instead give him a cape and cowl, which ultimately came to pass. See Les Daniels, 1999, Batman: The Complete History. (Chronicle Books), ISBN 0-8118-4232-0, pg. 21, 23.
^Anon., 1902, "The Masked Woman, Another Phase", in West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul, Victoria), Tuesday, September23, 1902, see the National Library of Australia, Trove digital archive, , accessed 13 October 2014.