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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jaycee from Virginia

Hello, I had a question about the pointed masks that look like bird's beaks. I have seen several TV shows that show witches wearing masks over their faces. Is this just something they do in Hollywood movies or does it have some real symbolism? For example, in the television show American Horror Story, Coven in episode 1 they showed a coven of witches with masks on their faces with long pointed noses or beaks. Thanks for your help, I am just wanting to know if the mask actually has some symbolism to it.

Masks on American Horror Story, Coven

Dear Jaycee,

Witches originally wore masks as a way of hiding their true identities. If anyone snuck up on them, they wouldn't be able to identify them. This would also include covering their hair.

As for the specific mask seen in American Horror Story, Coven, and its symbolism, here's a link to a Wikipedia entry for plague doctors, who wore beak-like masks thought to help protect them from air infected with plague as early as the 1600's. 

1656 engraving by Paul Furst of a plague doctor

For the most part, when seen in television and movies, these masks just look cool and witchy!