African Masks

The next is a common over view of African Masks.

There are nonetheless locations in Africa the place real outdated masks might be purchased, typically by means of sellers. Additionally be careful for fakes as they do abound. Keep in mind purchase belongings you like as funding can go up in addition to down. In case you like that carving or masks then the worth just isn’t as necessary.

The African masks of this space are nicely documented by Ladislas Segy in Masks of Black Africa. A lot of the next part on African Masks is influenced by his work.

The African masking traditions of this a part of the World are extraordinarily fertile and assorted. The traditions supporting the masks are typically related to the spirits of ancestors, rites of passage, fertility and initiation ceremonies. Dance is usually concerned in the usage of the masks. Segy lists the next sorts of ritual:-

Rituals of cosmology, fable and mythological heroes or animals

Fertility rites

Rituals for enhance

Agricultural festivals

Rituals for rites of passage

Ancestor cults

Initiations together with secret societies

Associated Ceremonies

Masks can be utilized for various ceremonies usually having a number of functions. The dimensions and elegance of masks are various, depicting animals, human faces and extra summary types in sizes from a

few centimetres to four.5 metres within the case of the Dogon Iminana ( mom masks ). With just a few exceptions the masks are all a part of a full costume and never simply an remoted piece of ornament..

Segy notes:-

Face coverings

Helmet masks

Headdresses Masks with distinguished breasts


Insignia of grade

Crowns of bead work


Wooden The main materials was wooden because of the massive forest and vary of species accessible. The selecting of a tree from which to make a masks was not as we would do at present, discover one and chop it

down. Somewhat the carver would search the assistance of a diviner and bear a purification ceremony and when the primary blow was struck he would drink a number of the sap so as to type a

brotherhood with the tree?s spirit. Masks could be carved from one piece of wooden with nothing jointed, with a number of the masks this created extreme technical difficulties when the early

carvers solely had easy instruments.

Normally inexperienced timber was used as this was simpler to chop. Sure vvarieties could be used for some particular masks, however normally the softer woods have been used

Ivory was utilized by the Warega and Benin. The ivory was the property of the Benin kings (Oba) they usually have been the one ones to put on ivory as a mark of workplace. The carving of the Warega was not as refined however has a powerful influence.

Brass was utilized by the Benin, Senufo and Ashanti.

Different Supplies

Knitted supplies have been used as have been beadwork, basketry and materials.

Further supplies included :- shells, beads, twigs, bark, tooth, hair, overwhelmed or repousse steel, vegetable fibres and pores and skin, to say a couple of.

West Africa

The masks of this space are nicely documented by Ladislas Segy in Masks of Black Africa. His e-book lists the next areas:-


Republic of Guinea

Sierra Leone



Ivory Coast Higher



Nigeria Cameroon

Inside every of those international locations might be discovered historic traditions related to particular person tribes displaying widespread hyperlinks. The areas related to some teams cross boundaries. The

names of the totally different tribes is just too intensive to record in the intervening time.

Equatorial Africa

Congo Zaire Zambia

Comparable themes and traditions are discovered with the masks from this space in comparison with these of the Western international locations. Within the early Fifteenth Century the nicely established Kongo folks had

shut contact with the Portuguese and later some transformed to Christianity. This has had some affect on the kind of festivities and masks. The Kongo dominated varied tribes within the space of those the Woyo and Yombe produced notable masks The Ndunga masks of the Woyo have been bigger than life measurement and had projecting foreheads massive cheeks with small eyes, the floor of those faces was painted with white or brightly colored asymmetrical designs.

The Western Pende on the Kwilu River in Zaire have two main sorts of masks. The Minhajl, which characterize the ancestors and the Mbuya which characterize varied village characters such because the

idiot, the prostitute, the chief and many others. These masks are used within the reinforcement of socialcontrol. The amusing performances are brightened by the triangular faces of the masks with bulging eyes, open mouths containing carved tooth painted in quite a lot of colors. The extra highly effective Minganji masks are less complicated round types made out of raffia with tubular eyes and no

different options. All of the masks are constructed in secret away from the village.

Within the Makenda circumcision ceremony the Mbuya seem from out of the bush and dance within the village sq. till nightfall. Because the sky darkens, Minganji, masked dancers, materialise and transfer

across the village at a distance, serving to to develop the sense of awe and unease. Within the secret circumcision camp the initiated youths are allowed to deal with the masks as they’re now absolutely fledged members of the society.

Many different types are present in these areas.

East Africa

Tanzania and Mozambique are each residence to the Mekonde top-of-the-line know tribe of masks makers in East Africa. The Mekonde masks are available varied types, the southern teams utilizing the helmet

kind. The options of those masks are sometimes real looking and are worn with a material overlaying the top of the dancer. Scarification is used. The characters represented are acquainted to the native

folks:- the outdated man, the physician, the younger lady and the Arab, some animal masks are discovered.

Over view

It should be famous that the masks of Africa characterize a wealth of types and designs which have been nicely collected and catalogued. The whole vary is on no account represented right here. The widespread connections between the masks and the totally different teams are clearly sturdy.

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