Photographer Nikos Vavdinoudis has developed Faces + Masks a photographic series featuring the costumes of eight villages in rural Northern Greece, and the obscure but fascinating rituals associated with them. The series is now open to the public via Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum.

These costumes and accompanying rituals extend to before Christianity with its roots in Dionysian ceremonies in ancient Greece and reflect an ancient and tribal Greece.

Some of the ritualised practices are known for their elaborate animalistic costumes. Dionysus the god of wine is also the god of resurrection, who died and was reborn three days later. This ancient festival is celebrated during the Christian holiday of Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ.

Faces + Masks series. Location: Kali Vrysi, Drama Prefecture, Greece. Photo: Nikos Vavdinoudis

The sub-summation of ancient or pagan festivals into newer religious ones is a practice adopted by many religions. It allows the dialogue between the ancient past and the present to remain virtually unbroken.

Performed mainly in agrarian regions of Eastern Macedonia in Northern Greece the rituals focus on the elimination of evil spirits, which could affect the fertility of the land and of the people who live on it. In the mountainous villages of this region, a good year is synonymous with abundance and the regeneration of flora and fauna upon which the people’s livelihood depends.

When: Open Daily from 10am – 4pm. Closed public holidays and over Christmas & New Year

Where: Hellenic Museum, Former Royal Mint Building, 280 William Street, Melbourne VIC

The installation runs until January 2023 for more information go to