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History of Face Paint

It’s true; we can date cosmetics back to the cavemen. It’s been discovered that ancient human beings produced paint in large quantities. Scientist discovered a tool for mixing paints in a South African cave with pigments of ocher clinging to it. Ocher is dug up from the ground and comes from iron oxide and was used to paint the wall of caves. They found evidence of a bone and charcoal mixture that would have made the paint oily and viscous so it would stick to skin. So our ancient kinsmen were making it to put on themselves. The fact that this tool exists with these elements clinging to it leads scientist to conclude that ancient humans were making a lot of paint to use not only on walls but on themselves as well. They were making face paint.Humans have a natural inclination for decorating themselves. This could be for a variety of reasons, but the one that is the most probable is that they used the paint to identify themselves. If you are the head honcho in the tribe, you might well have painted your face with a distinct pattern and to mark all of your children and wives; you might have demanded from the people in the tribe that they paint the same design on themselves. It’s possible that everyone had a face painting supply and a distinct design to use on themselves.Another reason for having created face painting supplies could have been completely aesthetic–they wanted to look better. The early paint might have been used to paint lips, eyes, cheeks, anything that was considered a canvas for beauty. This would have simply raised morality in the tribe. It’s funny to think that cosmetics could have been essential to lifting the spirits of our ancient ancestors, but when we think about how dangerous and arbitrary their world was, it’s not so far fetched. Each day had its dangers and life was short (literally), so maybe one of the pleasures was painting their own faces or each other faces as part of a ritual to celebrate life–of making it through another day.Then there is another explanation of why face paint was so important to cavemen and that would be for entertainment value. It’s possible they put on plays and shows for each other. We do it now, in present time; we did it 100 years ago and a thousand years ago. For as long as anyone can trace back in time, humans have a need to entertain and be entertained. Maybe our ancient ancestors reenacted a hunt they experienced because that was their way to communicate to their fellow tribesmen, before language had been fully developed. We know that they painted their history on the walls of caves but it’s plausible that they acted it out as well and used face paint to help.

Today we use face painting supplies to entertain ourselves and others; we use face painting supplies to entertain children at birthday parties and festivals. A child can become a tiger just for the sake of being a tiger, for his own entertainment. Clowns use face painting supplies to entertain audiences and to become a character. Taking into account what the scientists found in that South African cave, we can assume that entertainment and role playing is an innate part of being human. Looking at how we use face painting supplies today and how clowns use them, we can assume that we all just like to have fun.