LeBron James puts on his mask.
Photo: Getty Images
Masks: They've been around forever! Perhaps even literally since anthropologists haven't been able to pinpoint the origin of face coverings (yet). The world's oldest known surviving mask is made of stone, dates to 7000 B.C., and currently lives at Musee Biblique in France, but there's no telling whether people were shielding their mugs well before that or not.
Masks come in all shapes and sizes, from lacquered, half-face, Phantom of the Opera joints to flashy but flimsy full-dome luchador numbers. Much of the time they're purely aesthetic—a visual aid to some form of entertainment (see: Jabbawockeez) or meant to conceal identity (Anonymous' Guy Fawkes)—but they're functional accessories, too. A mask is a muzzle for Hannibal Lecter, a kind of painkiller for Bane, and far less terrifyingly (well, to some), a facial shield for Lebron James, who has been wearing a mask during games since breaking his nose last month.