Corpse-paint has the most unexpected antecedents.
There is a school in anthropology which studies diffusion: the spread of cultural ideas and artefacts from one culture to another. Often the focus is on material culture: extensive studies have been made of the patterns of diffusion of certain patterns which adorn pottery. But the concept of diffusion can be applied to many thing: Black Metal corpse-paint, amongst others!
Yesterday I bought the cd "Brazil '70" which was recently released by Soul Jazz Records. The cd collects Brazilian music from the early seventies, music which was inspired by the Tropicalia movement. I can wholeheartedly recommend the album - perhaps I'll review it more extensively in another post.
The center page of the very informative booklet accompanying the cd features a wonderful photograph of the band "Secos E Molhados". About the outrageous costumes of the band, the booklet mentions that the group was a direct inspiration for the American rock band KISS.
And in it's turn, KISS was one of the influences on the ghoulish, black and white make-up worn by the members of the infamous Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, and their many imitators. Thus, Tropicalia indirectly influenced the frostbitten, dark world of Black Metal!
Interestingly, Moynihan and Søderlind's book "Lords Of Chaos" mentions another Brazilian inspiration for corpsepaint: the band Sarcófago, a Brazilian Trash Metal band. Jon "Metalion" Kristiansen, founder of legendary Norwegian metal magazine Slayer, is cited: "I think it was really from a band called Sarcofago from Brazil. A very extreme metal band, they released an album and Euronymous was totally obsessed by them because they wore lots of spikes and corpsepaint. He said he wanted every band to look like this, because he was so against the Death Metal trend from the USA and Sweden". I've been unable to ascertain whether Sarcófago's corpse-paint practice was in any way inspired by "Secos E Molhados". Perhaps Brazilian readers of this blog can enlighten me?