In Indonesia, masks are used in village ritual dance dramas and in dramas derived from shadow-puppet plays. The traditional pageants and religious plays of China required masks representing kings, princesses, and grotesque characters, and the mystery plays of Tibet feature masked players representing demons and other spirits.
The use of masks in theatre started in Ancient Greece with drama associated with religious ceremonies. The masks worn by actors in Greek plays were large, with conventionalized features and exaggerated expressions; the wide mouth of the mask contained a brass megaphone to help project the actor's voice to the large audiences.
These masks fell into two general categories, tragic and comic, with many variations for both types. In Rome, masks were used in comedy and in pantomimes.
In Japan, the most famous use of masks is in the NoŻ plays; made of lacquered or gilded plaster by highly respected artisans, NoŻ masks are admired for their subtlety of expression.
Masks were employed in Renaissance courtly entertainment such as the masque and the ballet de cour, and they survived in ballet until the late 18th century.