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A blindfold (from Middle English blindfellen) is a garment, usually of cloth, tied to one's head to cover the eyes to disable the wearer's sight. It can be worn when the eyes are in a closed state and thus prevents the wearer from opening them. While a properly fitted blindfold prevents sight even if the eyes are open, a poorly made or trick blindfold may let the wearer see around or even through the blindfold.
Blindfolds can be used in various applications:
- As a sleep mask: They block out light when sleeping, especially during air travel, or for those who sleep during the day, given that shutting out light allows the user to achieve a deeper level of sleep. They can also provide relief from claustrophobia for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) patients. People with glaucoma should avoid using these.
- In children's games, such as Pin the Tail on the Donkey and when hitting a piñata.
- During both martial arts and weight lifting, to encourage reliance on other senses, such as touch or hearing.
- As a sensory deprivation tool in meditation, to focus attention on oneself rather than outside imagery.
- As a way to keep a kidnapping victim, hostage, prisoner, etc., from being able to identify locations or people. (A hood is a common alternative.)
- To cover the eyes of a blind person for health or cosmetic reasons. (Since the invention of sunglasses, this is much less common.)
- As a prop in magic tricks. One common trick involves a blindfolded performer doing a task that requires vision, such as driving.
- As an aid to simulate blindness during training of Orientation and Mobility Specialists, so that they develop empathetic understanding of blindness and learn how to rely on their other senses to get to know the environment and move around freely and independently.
- During executions.To relax the accused as they will be unable to see their execution. Its regarded as humane to blindfold.
Sexual blindfold use is common in and outside of the bondage community, one of the initial things recommended for sexual variety. Blindfolds (along with feathers and handcuffs) are commonly sold in novelty "bondage kits" marketed toward non-BDSM practitioners. Many impromptu items already found in the bedroom lend themselves to such use without preparation or prior purchase of specialized equipment.
Use of a blindfold is said to enhance the remaining senses of the wearer, focusing attention on sound, smells and physical contact. This increased awareness is said to allow for greater excitement and anticipation by eliminating visual cues, as one cannot see what to expect. It also requires trust of the submissive, with all the emotional ramifications that entails.
The blindfold has been a powerful symbol in divination and mythology since the 15th century.
The blindfold as a symbol is also a common theme in tarot and other divination methods. It can represent themes of the victim, resistance to clarity, denial, or limited views. It is often accompanied by underlying themes of integrity and truth at a cost. Likewise, the icon of the blindfold can symbolize the dichotomy of the conscious and the unconscious, as wearing a blindfold represents a stasis or a lesser state of consciousness, whereas taking off one's blindfold represents a form of awakening or rebirth. It also represents connection to feeling over senses, emphasizing the importance of emotion over perception.
- The News Today Online Edition, Of entertainers and blindfolded drivers by Atty. Cyril Regalado (retrieved July 31, 2011)
- Blindfolds in novelty kits
- NeoVox International Magazine, Psst...pass the handcuffs by Alex Reid, December 22, 2005 (retrieved August 1, 2006)
- Blindfolds in justice.
- Blindfolds in tarot.
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