For over thirty years, Chris has been in search of the meaning of the mask. What began as a thorough visual documentation of the traditional mask rituals of New Guinea developed into a voyage of discovery that took him around the globe photographing traditional mask traditions. From the steppes of Mongolia to the jungles of South America, from the deserts of West Africa to the continent of India and the high Himalayan mountain monasteries of Tibet and Bhutan, from Day of the Dead Festivals in Mexico to the lands of the First Nation tribes of North America and from Sri Lanka to modern Europe, Chris has documented hundreds of different rituals of the tradition of the mask, both on still film and video.
© Chris Rainier, Tlingit Raven Mask, AlaskaThe MASK book (12"X12" size) explores the origins of the mask with over 130 images as well as text by both Chris Rainier and Pico Iyer, the highly respected author of Video Nights in Kathmandu and the TED book The Art of Stillness. In addition, the work is complemented by deeply researched anthropological captions that shed light on why mankind has always worn masks - authored by Dr. Robert Welsch.
"These photographs, distilled from a lifetime of work, reveal the precision of Chris Rainier's vision, the breadth of his imagination and the reach of his spirit as expansive and all embracing as the many worlds through which he has traveled." Wade Davis
© Chris Rainier, Hamatsa Raven Mask, Alert Bay Canada
© Chris Rainier, Butterfly Mask, Bwa region, Burkina Faso, West AfricaEver since the dawn of human civilization, mankind has been in search of the sacred and a profound connection to the spiritual world. For countless traditional cultures around the planet, the dancing of the mask allows the performers and their audience to create a powerful relationship to a meaningful sense of the sacred. While masks have been hung in the great museums of the world, they are all too often separated from their context and meaning. Chris' mission has been to bring the masks back to life. His powerful images bring out their deep spiritual meaning and each of the masks is shown in the world in which it is worshipped and understood. They are profoundly alive and intensely powerful. Chris' images truly reveal how the masks still dance.
All about Chris Rainier:
Chris Rainier is a National Geographic Society EXPLORER and documentary photographer/filmmaker - who is highly respected for his documentation of endangered cultures and traditional languages around the globe. In 2002 he was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorers Club for his efforts on cultural preservation, and in 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society of London/UK -specializing in cultural preservation
He is the Director of The Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation - a global program focused on preserving Biodiversity and Traditional Cultural Knowledge.
© Chris Rainier, Buddhist Deer Mask, Mustang region, NepalDuring his continued tenure with the National Geographic Society he has been the co-founder and co-director of both the Enduring Voices Language Project and Director of the All Roads Photography Program, designed to support indigenous groups with modern technology desiring to document their traditional culture and create sustainable solutions to preserve the planet in the 21st Century. In addition as a NG Fellow he was an Editor for NG Traveler focused on documentation of traditional culture.
© Chris Rainier, Shaman performing, Northern Mongolia
© Chris Rainier, Sirige Mask, Dogon region, Mali, West AfricaRainier has completed photographic projects for the United Nations, UNESCO, Amnesty International, Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution, Time Magazine, the New York Times, LIFE Magazine, and the National Geographic Society. Rainier has photographed global culture, conflict, famine, and war in such places as: Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Iraq for TIME Magazine, - and for NPR Radio.
© Chris Rainier, Black Buffalo Mask, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New Mexico
© Chris Rainier, Naga Raksha Mask, Southern Sri LankaIn the early 1980's Rainier was Ansel Adams last photographic assistant- during his tenure with the noted photographer- he worked with Mr. Adams to amplify the use of Art Photography as a social tool - helping to preserve threatened wilderness areas and National Parks. Rainier went on to collaborate with UNESCO and IUCN on a Global Project using photography to preserve endangered wilderness areas around the world.
© Chris Rainier, Theyyam Performance, Kerala, India
© Chris Rainier, Kathakali Pefromance, Kerala, IndiaRainier's photography and books have been widely shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, The National Geographic Society, and the United Nations.
© Chris Rainier, Buddhist performance Masks, Thimpu, Bhutan
© Chris Rainier, Egungun Mask Yoruba region, Benin, West Africa
© Chris Rainier, Samurai Mask, Tokyo, Japan
© Chris Rainier, Mud Men performance, Highlands, New Guinea
© Chris Rainier, Plank Mask, Bwa region, Burkina Faso, West Africa
© Chris Rainier, Buddhist Mask, Paro, Bhutan
© Chris Rainier, Masked Malangan Tatanua Dancers, New Ireland, New Guinea