The Kingdom of Meltika lies in a fertile plain between the roots of the southernmost spur of Kaal-Charmat and north of the lands historically belonging to the Eternal Garion. Meltika is one of the largest of the so-called Northern Kingdoms, and is known to the travelled man for its strangeness and unusual customs that turn everyday life upside down for outsiders.
For the Meltiks wear masks over their faces all their lives, about as often and in about the same sense as we use clothes to cover our nakedness. They only remove their masks in private and on intimate occasions, about as much as we remove our clothes. Showing your real face in public is seen as a major breach of good manners, and if someone accidentally drops their mask in the street, everyone turns away in chastity, except for the rude people who stare curiously at your naked face.
Of course, even a simple Meltik has a large number of masks for every occasion. Different masks are worn at home, others at work, festive and cheerful masks are worn at parties and banquets, and the mask of sadness is worn at funerals. The tastefulness, richness, and obvious financial and artistic value of the mask are the things that at first sight distinguish the nobleman from the commoner and the official from the soldier. There are nuances between the types and designs of masks that are invisible to outsiders and a complex system that clearly co-creates the functionality of Meltika culture.
Meltiks naturally view the surrounding cultures as naked barbarians, and part of their worldview is that wearing a mask is a sign of cultural maturity. The Meltiks say that evolution began with the loincloth and fur and must naturally end with the mask. In a sense, the fully naked Archaiks are the antithesis of the Meltiks.
In conclusion, it should be added that the wearing of masks has spread beyond the Meltika over the centuries, and many neighbouring countries have adopted the occasional wearing of masks for festive occasions and dances. However, nowhere else but among the Meltiks is the mask seen as a compulsory part of clothing. The inquisitive reader who wishes to know more about the function of the mask should consult the chapters “Native Masks of the Maranudran Islands”, “Xalgon Masqueraders”, “Masks of the Mantrin Mages” and “Maghavan Battle Masks” in the Siranian Imperial Encyclopedia.