(16).  Feminine masks of the Baga people have ornamental scars and breasts. They may only cover the face, or go over the entire head, cover part of the torso, or be a headdress that rests on top of the head. The mask wearer thus becomes a sort of medium that allows for a dialogue between the community and the spirits (usually those of the dead or nature-related spirits). 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. African masks take on different forms. In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his or her human life and turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself. There are three basic types of … They are not meant to represent actual people or even animals. roughly between the Sahara and the Kalahari Desert. The function of ancient Egyptian masks, however, is better known. Contemporary artists like Sefah Mohamed from Accra, and Abdul Aziz Mohamadu, sell their handmade masks at affordable prices online. 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. At first, Europeans treated masks as ethnographic objects, and displayed them in natural history museums alongside taxidermied animals, exotic plant remains and fossils. Attending an African masquerade is a special experience that generally requires being part of African societies. Dried grass, woven palm fibres, coconuts, and shells, as well as wood are employed in the masks of New Guinea, New Ireland, and New Caledonia. , 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. They are used in religious and social events to represent the spirits of ancestors or to control the good and evil forces in the community. African masks were mostly worn by men because the spirits in the masks were seen as threatening to women. The meaning of African Masks always have a spiritual meaning and connection. To use the mask, the Zulu whisper their deepest secrets to the mask -- those secrets considered too precious or dangerous to tell any other member of the tribe. Shapes and Colors of African masks are tribe specific, thus they are used as parameters to locate the mask’s origin. 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. African masks are one of the richest and most diverse artistic traditions in the world. Common animal subjects include the buffalo (usually representing strength, as in the BaoulÃ© culture), crocodile, hawk, hyena, warthog and antelope. Some examples of known African masks and their meanings: Funeral Masks: Used by the Bete and Yoruba people, these masks have the main purpose of keeping sorcerers (feared by the Bete) at bay. As a consequence, the traditional art of mask-making has gradually ceased to be a privileged, status-related practice, and mass production of masks has become widespread. For African tribes, the power of the African mask lies in its creation. These include parallel lines, curves, spirals, and cruciform shapes all are found. The masks have a characteristic concave face which ends with a pointed chin, a high domed forehead, and big pouty lips.  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. Animal masks, their features elongated and formalized, are common in western Africa. https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=229649001&objectid=111363. 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). The African mask plays a constant sacred role in the life of the individual from early childhood until burial. 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. Families often passed the tradition down from generation to generation. The mask maker carves the mask using a traditional tool called an adze. Antelope = agriculture, enable better crops Elephant = wealth, success Lion = royalty Zebra = unity We also have a lesson on how to design your own African mask. The people who CAN make them usually have a special record held of something special that they did. The mask maker is enjoined to work within long-established bounds, using particular forms, traditional imagery, and formal conventions. They might be round, oval, rectangular, or combine several geometric forms. African masks are arguably the most recognized artifacts or craft items from the African continent. As they are worn across many different cultures, the colors of African masks have multiple meanings. Tiriki circumcision ceremony in Kenya, where boys are secluded for four weeks. The gods told them that the mask was no longer spiritually empowered so the museum put the mask on display with the family’s blessing. African masks are not simply beautiful artistic objects to be admired. , Animals are common subjects in African masks. The spirits that take up residence in the masks can be ancestors or natural entities. Not everyone can create and design an African Mask. O ur African Mask Lessons will introduce you to a range of African masks and the people who use them: When considering a mask in the Brooklyn Museum collection for an exhibition, the curator discovered that the mask, donated to the museum in 1998, had actually been stolen from a shrine in Nigeria in 1948. The oldest surviving African masks come from the Egyptian archaeological site of Hierakonpolis. The masks hold a very special place in African cultures since from the ancient times. Africans have been making masks since prehistory. You might want to print out some of these line drawings of masks and then paste them on a piece of cardboard and cut out holes for the eyes, mouth, and nose. These masks are mainly used for depicting the moral and psychological characteristics of an individual. Our African mask lessons teach you about different styles of masks, who makes them, how they are made, and where they come from. (8), Made by the Makonde people of Tanzania and Mozambique, these helmet masks featured prominently in rituals used during different life stages of children. The earliest evidence we have for masking in Africa comes from rock paintings in Algeria at Tassili n'Ajjer. The work of the African tribal artists who made the African masks was believed to be deeply spiritual and the artists were highly respected in their societies. Others represent male or female figures. 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. 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. African masks are usually shaped after a human face or some animal's muzzle, albeit rendered in a sometimes highly abstract form. While the specific implications associated with ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures. In Gabon, large chins and mouths represent authority and strength. African masks also serve as educational tools, as part of rituals to teach social roles and physical control or to settle disputes. This and his other tools each had a spirit that dwelled in it and a sacrifice had to be made to the tools before commencement of the work. Here presents 9 types of Japanese traditional masks and their meanings. 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