Minotaur Mask

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    A friend and I are making a minotaur mask for the autumn equinox and I wanted to ask for some advice on the design of the mask.

    I’m mainly wondering on whether to include a certain ornament that seems to be present in some minoan minotaur masks.

    For example, in this one there is something like a spiral wheel on the forehead:

    In this one, it is a golden flower:

    On this site there is a minotaur head drawing that also has some ornaments (skroll down towards the bottom of the page):

    Even when it is not so pronounced there is still some sort of wheel-like ornament, like in this one:

    What I am thinking I could do is to add some kind of slightly protruding circle-shaped ornament with a small red karneol stone in the middle (since red is also the colour of the minotaur). I’m just not sure if that will be a bit over the top. 🙂 So I’m happy to hear from the more experienced. Is it ok to try with that one or is it better to keep it more toned down?

    Otherwise, I’m thinking to use golden colour for the horns and mostly dark brown for the main body of the mask.




    Hi Pavlin,

    I don’t have a clear cut definite answer, but these are just some points to think about.

    I think to find out if the symbol is suitable to add, I guess it would be good to know its meaning and whether it correctly relates to the meaning of the autumn equinox and ceremony.

    Maybe these images also provide further clues:
    A Minoan vase featuring similar iconography.
    Another one.
    Especially this other one as well.
    Close up of it.

    It seems to me that at times the symbolism of the horns of the Minotaur seems to overlap a bit with that of the labrys? In the images above these ‘sun flowers’ are born from between the axes? Some of the vases also contain plant drawings around the labrys. What does it all mean?

    It seems to me that the symbolism on those vases and on the heads of Minotaurs is very deliberate and each part might have a specific meaning.

    My own feeling, though based on what I read from the Path of the Spiritual Sun book on the autumn equinox, is that it’s something to this effect: By overcoming that darkness the monster bull represents we extract the light that was contained in it from it, from that energy taken and transformed— the golden flower is born.
    The same natural/seasonal thing is explained with the seed in the ground that needs to end in order for a new plant to sprout and a flower to eventually blossom from of it.

    So to me I think it would be fine to include some of such iconography as it is featured on the original artefacts and seems (to me) in line with the deeper meaning. As to the specifics of a circle shaped ornament with a red karneol stone in the middle, I don’t know. Maybe something that resembles the original artefacts would be safest, or something of which you feel you specifically know the meaning of what you’re creating and can implement it correctly. But this is up to you of course.

    This one I find personally very beautiful. It feels to me like the creator knew the meaning of what they were making and also had the skills to make something beautiful. This seems to get across as somehow when looking at it, it ‘feels right’ to me.
    Maybe a flower like that but smaller would be nice? possibly with red stone in centre? (maybe the original centre was even red?)

    I think many of these finds are pretty authentic, but maybe someone knows of the most specific oldest artefact?

    Thanks for posting this page btw. Nice visual overview of Minoan art. And this image as well, as it made me look a bit closer at the specific patterns found on the mask and their possible meaning. There does seem to be the swirly circle (flower motive?) as well as that shield shape? under it. As well as, what I initially thought were merely decorations, but what seem like growing grains or perhaps rising flames?

    Nice to hear a bit on how you’re going with your mask, all the best with the further work on it!



    Not sure if it’s useful but I read this little description of the Knossos Rhyton:

    ” Serpentine rhytons in the form of bulls’ heads are recorded from Knossos to Zarko, and fragments have been found at other Cretan sites at Mycenae. Those from Knossos and Zakro, although not complete, have been skilfully restored, and are minor masterpieces of sculpture. The Knossian version was originally equipped with horns of gilt wood. The eyes (of which the right is perfectly preserved) had a lens of rock-crystal, painted on the underside with red for the pupil, black for the iris, and white for the rest of the eye. The crystal is set in a surround of red stone to give a frighteningly blood-shot effect. Round the nostril is an inlaid band of white shell.
    Long shaggy hairs are engraved on the animal’s forehead, brows and cheeks, and other engraved lines indicate dappling.

    Numbers of such Rhytons are known, but this is both the finest and most complete.”

    From a book called ‘Minoan and Mycenaean Art” I believe.

    It would have probably been more useful if I came across a description of the other Mycenean sun flower Rhyton 🙂 But still interesting to read how they did use coloured stones and shells etc.


    Jordan Resnick

    Hi Pavlin,

    Generally speaking, it’s probably better not to have a symbol incorporated into a ceremony unless you know what it means and are certain about the way it relates to the symbolic meaning of the thing in the ceremony that is being represented – in this case, the minotaur in the autumn equinox ceremony, which is something very specific.

 As you know in the equinox ceremony, (and the ancient myth) the minotaur has a specific meaning, representing the inner ego which has to be overcome within.

    I wouldn’t know for sure whether all traditional masks and artwork found in history were used in that specific context or for esoteric purposes of course. In any case, if, from your understanding of the symbol, you can see how a particular symbol relates to the minotaur’s role in the ceremony, then I think it would be fine to use it there (bearing in mind this is not something we have really looked into yet so can’t say for sure; if we do get a chance to look into it more I’ll let you know). Otherwise, if unsure about its relevance, I would just keep things simple.



    Thanks a lot for the replies.

    @karim, that description on how they used to paint the eyes in red and using stones and shells is really interesting. Actually, I hadn’t noticed before the eyes of that minotaur are actually red! It gives it a more fierce and scary look.

    @jordan, thanks for the advice. If you happen to have the time to look into it, it would be great to hear your directions. I noticed today that in the Path of the Spiritual Sun book, there is an image (I believe of this one minotaur rhyton with the description:

    An ancient Minoan rhyton which would have been used in ceremonies, housed in a museum in Crete.

    So maybe this is a good indication what it should be like.

    Thanks again.



    That sounds good Pavlin, that Knossian rhyton seems a good way to go.

    I’m still curious about those two symbols on it though! I might have a possible idea about the top one, but the bottom one? Is it a shield perhaps. Or some symbol depicting balance. It even looks like the symbol we use nowadays to say when clothing is made of leather Maybe that originated in Minoan Crete 😉

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