Was The Masque of Blackness meant to denigrate dark skin?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Masque of Blackness and its sequel, the Masque of Beauty, were intended to show off the beauty and accomplishments of the royal court, in a display of visual pageantry created by court architect and stage designer Inigo Jones and poet Ben Jonson. The black make-up worn by the ladies of the court and the Ethiopian theme were to a great degree displays of exoticism and luxury, with stunning visual effect. Black skin was considered inferior to white skin (ladies make-up always made their skin appear lighter), and the masque (and the light colours of the sequel, Masque of Beauty) simply assume this to be the case. Thus they are not so much actively trying to put down black skin as simply sharing a generally cultural presumption of the period about it.