What does a Face tell of the Unique Character of its Owner

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"What does a Face tell of the Unique Character of its Owner"
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(Exhibition on people, faces, masks and beliefs (in the studies of facial expression) at the Eretz Israel Museum (Land of Israel), Tel Aviv, Israel. Curator: DannaTagar Heller. At the exhibit visitors met their own image and set out on a journey that examined facial features in numerous ways; they met with different schools of thought that deal with study of the face (from the Kabbalah through the various branches of the sciences) and to try to answer the question of whether faces really attest to our character and personality as human beings.

A question one might ask What does a face tell of the unique character of its owner? Why one is considered ugly in one's skin and personality? Why is one person quite humorous and another is rather frightening in his or her looks and tone of speech. Faces are enigmatic, indecipherable and secretive. The secret lies in the study of 'physiognomy' which is a mystical, elusive and fascinating subject that raises numerous questions relating to human character. The exhibition at the museum raises question and assumptions that emerge when dealing with the enigma of the face, and seeks to shed light on the mystery and the puzzling secrets hidden in the human face. Indeed, the human face has always been a source of enigmatic fascination and study to determine the characteristics and thoughts of a man or woman.

Physiognomy ('nature' and 'gnomon' meaning 'judge' or 'interpreter' Greek 'phsis') is the assessment of a person's character or personality from their outer appearance, especially the form of face. In simple term it is the art and science of discovering the predominant temper or other characteristic qualities of the mind, by the outward appearance, especially by the features of the face. Various studies and numerous fields attempt to decipher the face and interpret its feature through classical sculptures of the ancient past, works of art and masks in various historical periods, which originated in different cultures and far reaching.

Note: Also called anthroposcopy, the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, especially of the face.

Competent scholars wrote and are writing in their attempt at their work in the field of social and cognitive psychology (mental process of perception, memory, judgment and reasoning) to explain the connection, between facial features and the human psyche. The men of science try to answer the question whether faces really reveals to one's character and personality as human beings. The question has numerous answers both contradictory and complimentary. Some fields of thought regard the face a map of one's character and personality others disapprove of the belief that the face can reveal characteristics.

Researchers examine the facial expression and appearance as a means of determining the character and of mental or moral character and qualities by the face. Through the facial features is one method to determine to show qualities of mind or character of an individual by their configuration or expression. For example - the face can be used to complement verbal communication, such as lifting of the eyebrows to lend additional emphasis to a stressed word or as a facial shrug to express "I don't know" to another's query.

Although the roots of the practice that the idea that a person's character can be glimpsed in their face dates back to the ancient Greeks. Physiognomy as a formal science dates back as far as the 14th century, when people with names like Giambattista della Porta and Barthelemy Cocles wrote long and lovingly detailed treatises on how to evaluate people by their faces. Some traditional physiognomists, such as the Chinese Face Readers insist on a much stronger relation between facial appearance and character than do scientists or western physiognomists. Then in the 18th and 19th centuries, physiognomy was used by some of its proponents as a method of detecting criminal tendencies. Many bigots and racists still use physiognomy to judge character and personality of individuals from varied ethnic cultures.. Later the theme of physiognomy is a central, implicit assumption underlying the plot of Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' and it figured prominently in the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe.

Note: Another field, in which physiognomy is used, though typically in an informal way, is the audition of actors and actresses to fill certain roles. For example, a woman or man who emphasizes certain rules and behavior, evil or virtuous men, and incompetent or stupid characters are often portrayed by actors who "look the part".

The exhibition at the museum presented artifacts tangential to the theme of the display caricatures, identikits, facial objects, the mapping and coding of faces in art, interactive games and so on..

For additional information:

Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

Address: 2 Haim Levanon St., Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69975, Israel.

Public Relations: (03) 641- 5820, email: [email protected]

More about this author: Norman A. Rubin

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