Some are very small, some are life-size, and others are gigantic. [11] As veneration of the dead is most often associated with fertility and reproduction, many dead-ancestor masks also have sexual symbols; the ndeemba mask of the Yaka people (Angola and DR Congo), for example, is shaped after a skull complemented with a phallic-shaped nose. African masks come in different shapes and styles. Below is a sampling of ten types of masks, their uses and the cultures with which they are associated. Many museums struggle with the ethics of collecting and displaying African masks, due to the way in which some of the masks were collected and the spiritual implications of the masks. People are not even allowed to speak the name of the mask wearer because he is subsumed in the mask spirit's identity. African masks are arguably the most recognized artifacts or craft items from the African continent. They are not meant to represent actual people or even animals. (1). The meaning of African Masks always have a spiritual meaning and connection. Masks are also worn during rites of passage, such as mass circumcision of boys or during initiation into secret societies. (18). In fact, some of the most impressive ones take up space in museums and art galleries all over the world. Facial marks determine what rights the person has to contribute to the well-being of … In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by these masks. An extreme example is given by nwantantay masks of the Bwa people (Burkina Faso) that represent the flying spirits of the forest; since these spirits are deemed to be invisible, the corresponding masks are shaped after abstract, purely geometrical forms. These masks are kept in special huts and are brought out and danced primarily during the funerals of important individuals of the society. Animal masks might actually represent the spirit of animals, so that the mask-wearer becomes a medium to speak to animals themselves (e.g. These show masks that look a lot like contemporary West African masks and date to about 11,000 years ago. (12), https://blackhawkmuseum.org/art-of-africa/. Male masks are distinguished by a striated pattern of three colors while the female is predominantly white with the features accented in black and some in red. For African tribes, the power of the African mask lies in its creation. Only through these rituals, which often involved adding magical substances to the mask, would the spirits who were intended to dwell in the mask take up their abode there. Traditional masks have been playing an important role in the Japanese society. For example, Congolese businessman Sindika Dokolo has been tracking stolen masks since 2014. [7] Dogon antelope masks are highly abstract, with a general rectangular shape and many horns (a representation of abundant harvest. (22). The earliest evidence of them is in the form of rock art from 11,000 years ago but they may be even older than that. In most cultures, the mask maker was a respected member of society. There are three known types of masks depicting animal-headed gods from ancient Egypt. He has successfully returned a number of masks this way. Merging distinct animal traits together is sometimes a means to represent unusual, exceptional virtue or high status. Mask (Kanaga), Mali, Dogon peoples, 20th century, wood, fiber, hide, pigment, 53.6 x 97.2 x 15.9 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), The Kanaga mask is a funerary mask worn by the Dogon people of Mali intended to ensure the safe passage of the deceased to the otherworld where his ancestors are. All community members were required to attend Igbo masquerades in Nigeria, where the masked individuals would approach people and tell them the bad behavior they engaged in. Many agricultural societies and associations in Mali have a stylized representation of an antelope in their symbols. The number of types of African masks probably reaches into the hundreds, primarily among the cultures of West and Central Africa. In Europe, the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium, Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in Paris and the British Museum all have excellent collections. The most commonly used material for masks is wood, although a wide variety of other elements can be used, including light stone such as steatite, metals such as copper or bronze, different types of fabric, pottery, and more. Rather, they are part of a ceremonial costume. [8], A common variation on the animal-mask theme is the composition of several distinct animal traits in a single mask, sometimes along with human traits. to ask wild beasts to stay away from the village); in many cases, nevertheless, an animal is also (sometimes mainly) a symbol of specific virtues. Alluring Africa Tattoo Design for Girls: Download Free African Symbols Vectors and other types of African Symbols graphics and clipart at FreeVector.com! They also served the purpose of reminding people of their rules of society as well as acting as a spiritual arbiter in cases involving village disputes. The most famous of these is the boy king Tutankhamun’s gold funerary mask, which was placed on his mummy and weighed a whopping 22.5 pounds (10 kilos). They are made of different materials which include leather, fabric and various types of wood. O ur African Mask Lessons will introduce you to a range of African masks and the people who use them: African masks take on many forms. African masks are usually shaped after a human face or some animal's muzzle, albeit rendered in a sometimes highly abstract form. [12], A special class of ancestor masks are those related to notable, historical or legendary people. Read on mysteries along with handy advice on african mask and their meanings. Enlarged facial features; Symmetrical design; Checkboard patterns; They are twisted, parallel, curved. Others represent male or female figures. Africans have been making masks since prehistory. [5] The Grebo of the Ivory Coast carve masks with round eyes to represent alertness and anger, with the straight nose representing an unwillingness to retreat. The show focuses on the ways in which the qualities associated with red, white and black manifest themselves on various types of masks, one of the African … Here presents 9 types of Japanese traditional masks and their meanings. Wherever they appear they are associated with practically all of the elements fundamental to the life forces distinctive of an area. (9), During three day long funerals of the Senufo tribe in Côte d’Ivoire, members of the secret male Poro society wear these masks while beating on drums next to the funerary bed. She consulted the descendants of the family that had fashioned the mask on what to do. Contemporary artists like Sefah Mohamed from Accra, and Abdul Aziz Mohamadu, sell their handmade masks at affordable prices online. Some African cultures have mask-like ornaments that are worn on the chest rather than the head of face; this includes those used by the Makonde people of East Africa in ndimu ceremonies. Used with my mixed Year 3 & 4 class when desigining their own African masks during our Ghana topic. What are the different types of African masks? Common animal subjects include the buffalo (usually representing strength, as in the Baoulé culture),[6] crocodile, hawk, hyena, warthog and antelope. By the early 20th century, the same masks came to be regarded as art objects and were collected by and displayed in art museums. For instance, masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks to those that wear them in ceremonies. You can get in touch with us on support@afrikanza.com. Animal masks, their features elongated and formalized, are common in western Africa. personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Physical characteristics of African Tribal Masks, Genesis: ideas of origin in African sculpture, For spirits and kings: African art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman collection, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Traditional_African_masks&oldid=992137583, Wikipedia articles with style issues from June 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on African masks, This page was last edited on 3 December 2020, at 18:19. This African mask from the Tikar people of Cameroon is hand carved of wood, and features finely detailed brass embellishment to the eyes and forehead. The African mask plays a constant sacred role in the life of the individual from early childhood until burial. A detailed list of Adinkra symbols and their meanings in Ghana ⭐ADINKRA SYMBOLS⭐are a great representation of cultural expression, concepts, and traditional mythology of Asante or Ashanti people in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Represented are fanciful birds, fishes, and animals with distorted or exaggerated features. African art and masks of the Tikar. Unfortunately, some of the greatest collections of African masks are outside the continent. Picasso was said to have been inspired by the Ngil mask from the Feng culture, hence the high price. They would then go to the local elders and describe the dream, and these elders would take a decision as to whether the mask should be made or not. The masks are carved out of wood and are often dyed to give a … African masks can be considered as one of the greatest works of art in Africa. Female masks of the Punu people of Gabon, for example, have long curved eyelashes, almond-shaped eyes, thin chin, and traditional ornaments on their cheeks, as all these are considered good-looking traits. The history of African mask collecting has gone through several stages since Europeans began to collect masks in the 19th century during their colonial forays into Africa. History of African Masks. There are many types, meanings, uses and materials that make up these pieces, and the same people can have several different masks. Making an African mask is a great art project for kids that also helps them learn about cultures. Masks are one of the elements of great African art that have most evidently influenced European and Western art in general; in the 20th century, artistic movements such as cubism, fauvism and expressionism have often taken inspiration from the vast and diverse heritage of African masks. 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