Ritual masking is an important institution in many traditional societies and has attracted much attention from Western scholars. In 'Ritual Masks', Pernet provides a thorough survey of masks and masking traditions in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, based on a close analysis of the literature in several languages. Pernet's approach provides him with an opportunity to examine issues of importance to the history of religion and anthropology. These include the influence of theory on the interpretation of prehistoric documents; androcentrism in anthropology and the history of religions; and Western scholarship's recurrent problems in interpreting preliterate or traditional societies. FROM THE SERIES EDITOR'S PREFACE: Among the more intriguing aspects of the study of comparative religions has been the exoticism perceived in cultures that are radically other than our own. Perhaps no phenomenon has expressed this sense of otherness better than the ritual mask and its uses. In 'Ritual Masks: Deception and Revelations'...Henry Pernet examines closely actual masks and their contexts and uses, in light of which he tests major trends in Western interpretation of them. The author's findings, based on a very extensive analysis of the literature in a variety of languages, are that several of the widely accepted and perpetuated theories of masking are groundless, or at least very limited in application. The author's main conclusions are easily summarized: the mask is not universal, it has not existed in all times, it does not represent principally spirits or the dead, and the mask is not generally used to enable its wearer to become what is represented. - Frederick Mathewson Denny, University of Colorado-Boulder Henry Pernet received his Ph.D. in history of religions from the University of Chicago where his advisers were Mircea Eliade, Joseph M. Kitagawa and Frank E. Reynolds. As an historian of religions, Pernet served as the State expert overseeing examination in this field at the University of Lausanne, and as an expert for the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research on cultural pluralism and national identity. He sat on the committees of the Swiss Society for the Study of Folklore and of the Swiss Society for the Science of Religions. He edited a book series in history of religions and was a member of the board of the Editions Labor et Fides, Geneva. Pernet has published articles in professional journals on the subject of mask and masking and is the author of articles on this subject in The Encyclopedia of Religion. He was a member of the group charged with the translation of Carl Gustav Jung's works into French and was instrumental in the preparation of the French editions of several of Mircea Eliade's works.