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Sale of life-like masks booms in China

world Updated: Jun 27, 2011 10:04 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

Ultra-thin masks that look like human skin with only holes for eyes and nostrils have recently become a craze in China. This has, however, evoked concern among the public who fear the masks may be misused.

The "incredibly realistic" masks are giving buyers a chance to completely change the way they look, says the China Daily.

Available online on taobao.com, the masks - only 0.1 to one mm thick - are made from silica gel and look like a layer of human skin.

They have almost the same texture as real skin and can only be noticed within a distance of one metre. Prices range from 500 yuan ($77) to 2,000 yuan.

"We are getting a huge number of inquiries about these masks. And business is thriving," said Xu, owner of the Beijing Face Disguise Studio.

Xu started his own mask business in 2010. He had earlier made special masks for film companies.

Xu's studio also sells fake ears and fingers.

While the purposes of buying such masks remain a mystery, he said most people simply buy them for fun -- like scaring a girlfriend, while there are others who are disfigured.

"It's especially helpful for those people with biological defects," said Xu.

But Xu takes no responsibility for any crime that takes advantage of his masks.

"It's like selling knives. You can't forbid people from selling them just because they could hurt or kill others," he argued.

Wu Yanyan, an office woman in Shanghai, says she does not believe buyers were just seeking fun.

"I don't think people would pay 600 yuan just for fun. With such a sum of money, far more exciting things can be bought. There must be some ulterior motive behind it."

"Besides, it's creepy if we are surrounded with a crowd of masked people," she said.

Zhang Tao, an attorney in Shanghai, said there are no definite laws prohibiting the sale of disguises.

"Of course it would be illegal if someone wore a mask of this kind to rob a bank or steal into another country. But it's the behaviour that violates the law, while the mask is simply a tool, and it's only when the mask is used during a crime that it can be called a criminal tool," he said.