Posted by Pervy L on February 07, 2005
In Reply to: Fits like an iron mask posted by kate on February 07, 2005
: Does anyone know what the phrase "fits like an iron mask" means?
An iron mask is literally what it says - a face covering made of metal. I have had the misfortune to visit a torture exhibition with exhibits going back to the days of the "Theological Colleges" - i.e. the Inquisition and head masks were used as a form of control. once a person had their head secured by an iron mask, then using external staples/eyelets additional restriction could be placed on movement - an iron mask could be at the end of a chain or metal bars. it is a frightening way of restricting movement, because the masks either have no line of sight or if there is some, it may remove peripheral vision.
the iron mask also prevented the identity of captives being readily established - as in "The Man in the Iron Mask" - a story in which the mask was used to prevent the identity of the mysterious prisoner being noticed.
it is a rather less flexible version of the 'gimp mask', if you know what that is!
If something 'fits like an iron mask' then it would fit closely in an uncomfortable and restricting manner.
I hope that helps.