This is a large Visard mask (also spelled ‘vizard’), worn by gentlewomen in the 16th and possibly into the early 17th centuries.
The mask was found during the renovation of an inner wall of a 16th-century stone building. The wall was approximately four feet thick, and the mask was found concealed within the inner hard core of the wall, which consisted of soil, straw and horse hair (for insulation). The mask was folded in half, lengthways, and placed within a small rectangular niche behind the face of the wall. Due to the conditions when found, the mask has an amount of soil and straw adhering to one half. The opposite half still has the velvet material in relatively good condition, but is in need of some conservation to prevent further damage.
The mask is oval and measures 195mm in length and 170mm in width. The eyes are lentoid, 30mm wide and 15mm high. The mouth is 48mm wide, widening in the centre to make a gap for the nose. The nose area is strengthened to stand out and form a case around the wearer’s nose. The mask weighs 32.4g (although this weight is inaccurate, due to the amount of soil and straw adhering to one side).
We would like to thank The Portable Antiquities Scheme for allowing us to use the information from: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/402520.
For more information about vizard masks including description, history, design and materials see:
“Her mask, her vizard, her loose-hanging gowne
For her loose lying body, her bright spangled crown
Her long slit sleeue, stiffe busk, puffe verdingall,
Is all that makes her thus angelicall.”
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