Museum complex


The second half of the XIII century
A cattle’s leather; a cutting out technique
13,5 x 15 cm
From: found by the archeological expedition to Novgorod led by A.B. Artsikhovsky; donated to the museum in 1967.
Showcase 14

The mask depicts a laughing human face, which is emphasized by the narrowed slits for the eyes and the highly raised corners of the mouth with the exposed lower line of the teeth.
Initially, leather masks were considered to be a property of saltimbanco or items connected with sorcerers. The mask was cut of a recommissioned piece of leather in place just before the ritual action.
At the same time, according to experts, there was no strict binding of such masks to certain holidays. They could be used during the yuletide week and on Shrovetide festivities.
Leather anthropomorphic masks are a quite rare finding. Currently there are only 17 of such masks, 13 of them were found during the excavations in Novgorod. Except Novgorod three leather masks were found in two Russian cities: two masks (a full mask and a half mask) of the XIV century come from the excavations of the Tver Kremlin, and one more was found in the premongolian layer of the shaft of the city in Vladimir-on-Klyazma. The fourth mask was found during the excavations of the polish city Opole.