Masks of shame

Throughout history, people (mostly women) have been made to wear special masks as a punishment for their social behaviour. In England and Scotland, they were known as bridles or branks, while in Germany, they were known as schandmasken (or “masks of shame” in English).

The brank, or ‘scold’s bridle,’ originated around the early 17th century. Most early references date to the 1620’s or 30’s. It was used ‘To curb women’s tongues that talk so idle.’ The metal device passed over and round the head and was fastened at the back of the neck by a small padlock. The bridle-bit – a flat piece of iron, about two inches long and one inch broad, went into the mouth, and kept down the tongue by its pressure.

via National Education Network

In Germany, male and female commoners were at risk of wearing a schandmaske if they had the nerve to wear regalia of a higher class:

Commoners who dared to wear the symbols of the upper class were fined for their chutzpah. Restoring the social order, though, required more than a monetary payoff. The punishment for such a violation was public shaming, and in 17th-century Germany, as well as elsewhere in central Europe, England and Scotland, not much was more humiliating than the schandmaske, or shame mask.

Peacocking proletariats were sentenced to wear the rooster, a pounded metal schandmaske with a fleshy comb and wattle, elaborately wrought feathers and a long beak. “The masks were fashioned to be as eye-catching as possible,’ explains Markus Hirte, the managing director of the Medieval Crime Museum in the central German city of Rothenburg ob-der Tauber, which has one of the most extensive collections of shame masks in the world and one of the last roosters to survive to the 21st century. “Many even had bells or a trunk that whistled when the person wearing it would breathe just to garner attention.”

via Atlas Obscura

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