Shrines, alcoves and the stage.....
Make-up will always be somewhere between nature and culture. On the one hand, visible make-upis used for its intrinsic beauty; this is the cultural aspect. "We had to battle nature, cruel, stupid wild nature, which we try to outsmart by using every possible ruse of the human spirit", wrote Princess Bibesco, discussing the first beauty parlors in the 1920s. On the other hand make-up is used as an expression in of itself, used merely to glorify what already exists, what is here: "The ultimate in artifice is to appear natural," wrote Paul Poiret during this same Belle Epoque, "but what a sublime nature!"
Skin was most likely the first surface ever painted, long before stone and, of course, canvas. We can assume that the early man, participating in magical ceremonial rituals in painted canvas, had also painted their bodies.
Make-up followed on from body painting for religios and theatrical purposes. It was used for everything, except for selfexpression; it was viewed more like an escape, a mask . A face paited with conventional forms demonstrates that someone else- a god or famous figure- inhabited the actor or the priest. The officiant or the actor had the god or figure inside him and on his skin; the medium was no longer a thin invisible film: through the other, he was inhabited and clothed.
On closer examination, what differentiates the "outrageous" make-up of a courtesan from that of an "honest" woman is not necessarily excess; it is rather that the first perpetuates the idea of ceremonial make-up. Throughout history, courtesans were seen more as shrines. In Corinth, for example, more than one thousend courtesans, known as hierodules, lived in the complex around Aphrodite's Temple. And the dancing girls of India, known as bayaderes, "essential ornaments for the gods and for privates festivities," who resided within the sacred walls, were devadasis -servants to the gods.
Even the lowliest prostitute knows a man is not looking specifically for her - Yolande or Amanda - but seeks another through her, the eternal Woman or the figure known only to the unconscios. Her make-up is not overone ; it is symbolic: is the archetype of femininity depicted with thick strokes of green , red and black .
Make-up needs only to sketch "woman" across a face , and this name becomes clearly visible via the gaudy elements that are the mouth, cheekbones and eyes.
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