types of african masks and their meanings

The wearer of the mask is often believed to be able to communicate to the being symbolized by it, or to be possessed by who or what the mask represents. 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. Artists use various materials to make African masks. Sometimes an offering or sacrifice is even made to the tree’s soul before it is chopped down. However, several common meanings can be found for three colors: red, white and black. There are many types, meanings, uses and materials that make up these pieces, and the same people can have several different masks. There are three basic types of … Represented are fanciful birds, fishes, and animals with distorted or exaggerated features. African Mask and Their Meanings, 74 most recent reports as well as publications about african mask and their meanings. Wherever they appear they are associated with practically all of the elements fundamental to the life forces distinctive of an area. Masks referring to dead ancestors are most often shaped after a human skull. Some of these masks are stolen and Africans are increasingly engaging in campaigns to get them back. A priest wore a mask of the jackal-god Anubis mask during funerary rituals, which are depicted in Egyptian art. Some of the most complex rituals that have been studied by scholars are found in Nigerian cultures such as those of the Yoruba and Edo peoples, rituals that bear some resemblance to the Western notion of theatre. Three mask types exist: two male and one female. To honor his dead mother, the king wore the mask on his hip during special ceremonies. Including Day of the Dead, African masks, Masquerade masks, Samurai warrior masks... etc. A fact sheet and matching powerpoint showing the different types of African masks and what their purposes and meanings are. The general structure of a mask varies depending on the way it is intended to be worn. Download Free African Symbols Vectors and other types of African Symbols graphics and clipart at FreeVector.com! If they refuse, he sends his lawyers after them. In Africa masks can be traced back to well past Paleolithic times. Wood is plentiful in Africa’s forests. (4), Helmet Mask, 19th-20th century, Sierra Leone, Moyamba region, Mende or Sherbro peoples, wood, metal, 47.9 x 22.2 x 23.5cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), The helmet mask of the Mende people of Sierra Leone is unusual in that it is worn by female initiates of a young women’s association. For example, both the Bwa and the Buna people of Burkina Faso have hawk masks, with the shape of the beak identifying a mask as either Bwa or Buna. Traditional African masks play an important role in certain traditional African rituals and ceremonies. The mask is an instrument; without it, one cannot understand his African culture. The earliest evidence we have for masking in Africa comes from rock paintings in Algeria at Tassili n'Ajjer. 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). Masks that represent animals are popular. 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. Some masks represent the spirits of deceased ancestors. This mask represents him but does not depict him, because he cannot be seen, and is used in performances intended to maintain the balance of nature in the agricultural society. Merging distinct animal traits together is sometimes a means to represent unusual, exceptional virtue or high status. The people who CAN make them usually have a special record held of something special that they did. What are the characteristics of African masks? Making an African mask is a great art project for kids that also helps them learn about cultures. The Yoruba people believe that the masks … You can decorate it with paint, feathers, cotton, yarn, buttons, and tinfoil. Rather, they are part of a ceremonial costume. The masks hold a very special place in African cultures since from the ancient times. Carving a mask with an adze. The inherent lack of realism in African masks (and African art in general) is justified by the fact that most African cultures clearly distinguish the essence of a subject from its looks, the former, rather than the latter, being the actual subject of artistic representation. Masking rituals are normally accompanied with prayer, music, song and or dance. In most cultures, the mask maker was a respected member of society. 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. There are three known types of masks depicting animal-headed gods from ancient Egypt. Alluring Africa Tattoo Design for Girls: Animal masks might actually represent the spirit of animals, so that the mask-wearer becomes a medium to speak to animals themselves (e.g. They come to life, possessed by their spirit in the performance of the dance, and are enhanced by the music, color and atmosphere of the occasion. Animal hair or straw are often used for a mask's hair or beard. [7] Dogon antelope masks are highly abstract, with a general rectangular shape and many horns (a representation of abundant harvest. These rituals can last for hours and are accompanied by dancing and singing. The most common type applies to the wearer's face, like most Western (e.g., carnival) masks. The curator and the family conducted a divination ceremony with the gods as part of the decision making process. Below is a sampling of ten types of masks, their uses and the cultures with which they are associated. [2], Since every mask has a specific spiritual meaning, most traditions comprise several different traditional masks. A wide array of ornamental items can be applied to the mask surface; examples include animal hair, horns, or teeth, sea shells, seeds, straw, egg shell, and feathers. 8. roughly between the Sahara and the Kalahari Desert. The Dundo Museum in Angola displays masks that were previously looted but returned. You can get in touch with us on support@afrikanza.com. However, mask dances are sometimes a focus of special tours to Africa, and Dogon mask dances are often performed specially for tourists. Common animal subjects include the buffalo (usually representing strength, as in the Baoulé culture),[6] crocodile, hawk, hyena, warthog and antelope. Yoruba tribal marks In Yoruba communities, children are born into particular clans. In Western museums and private collections, they are treated as artistic objects appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. [10], As the veneration of defunct ancestors is a fundamental element of most African traditional cultures, it is not surprising that the dead is also a common subject for masks. Unfortunately, some of the greatest collections of African masks are outside the continent. Geometric and symmetrical patterns often play a prominent role in the design of African masks. 7. In fact, some of the most impressive ones take up space in museums and art galleries all over the world. Making African masks needs great knowledge and great skills. The masks are carved out of wood and are often dyed to give a … African masks are one of the oldest known forms of art. [3] Feminine masks of the Baga people have ornamental scars and breasts. Shapes and Colors of African masks are tribe specific, thus they are used as parameters to locate the mask’s origin. Families often passed the tradition down from generation to generation. [6], Another common subject of African masks is a woman's face, usually based on a specific culture's ideal of feminine beauty. For many centuries African Tribal masks, played a major role in rituals, celebrations, ceremonial and tribal initiations. Among these are Man Ray’s surrealist photo Noire et Blanche, one of many photographs he produced that featured West African artworks that he collected. It is often the case that the artistic quality and complexity of a mask reflects the relative importance of the portrayed spirit in the systems of beliefs of a particular people; for example, simpler masks such as the kple kple of the Baoulé people of Côte d'Ivoire (essentially a circle with minimal eyes, mouth and horns) are associated with minor spirits.[3]. However, several common meanings can be found for three colors: red, white and black. A overview of different types of masks around the world and their meanings, with pictures. (15). What are the different types of African masks? African masks take on many forms. African Masks Examined: History, Type, Role, Meaning & Examples, https://www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images. The spirits that take up residence in the masks can be ancestors or natural entities. The designs of the masks teach important moral and social lessons during dances performed for funerals, agricultural rituals, and initiations. Masks have a special symbolism and ritual meanings in African tribes and societies in general. As the tempo accelerates, the ground pulsates, colors swirl, the dust kicks up, and whatever divide exists between the corporeal and the incorporeal, the spiritual and the mundane, the temporal and the intemporal dissolves. When the mask wearer puts on the mask, his identity is taken over by the spirit represented by the mask. African masks are arguably the most recognized artifacts or craft items from the African continent. African Masks. While most African tribal masks represent spirits and ancestors, the Dan masks are the spirits themselves. 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. Among the museums where you can see masks in Africa is the National Museum of Burkina Faso or the newly inaugurated National Museum in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The record paid for an African mask was $7.5 million at an auction in 2006. L-R: Bauta Barocco Gold, Bauta Barocco Silver, Bauta CeraLooks like: It’s got a square-ish jaw, large chin, and no mouth. Facial marks determine what rights the person has to contribute to the well-being of … 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. Subscribe to get special offers and the latest offers from the Afrikanza team. [6] A 12th/13th century mural from Old Dongola, the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Makuria, depicts dancing masks decorated with cowrie shells imitating some animal with long snouts and big ears. (14). The African mask plays a constant sacred role in the life of the individual from early childhood until burial. Masks play a central role in masquerades, during which the mask wearers danced accompanied by music. (10), The Bobo people of Burkina Faso believe the son, Dwo, of the creator god, was left on earth to mediate between man and God. After a visit to the ethnographic museum in Paris, Pablo Picasso also started collecting masks and went through a period when he painted paintings that were inspired by them. One is a light wooden mask that would have sat on top of the head but the other is a clay helmet that weighs a whopping 17 pounds! Despite their timeless existence, many people are not well-versed with the craft items. (19, 20). African masks represent spirits of the dead, and spirits representing natural phenomena. Trees are thought to possess a soul and therefore it is a good material to house the spirit of the mask. Priests wore masks of the falcon-headed god Horus during various religious rituals as well. Others symbolize totem animals, creatures important to a certain family or group. https://www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images. The traditional religion of the Dogon people of Mali, for example, comprises three main cults (the Awa or cult of the dead, the Bini or cult of the communication with the spirits, and the Lebe or cult of nature); each of these has its pantheon of spirits, corresponding to 78 different types of masks overall. 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. 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. Contemporary artists like Sefah Mohamed from Accra, and Abdul Aziz Mohamadu, sell their handmade masks at affordable prices online. However, their role in African society is more functional than artistic. A frican masks should be seen as part of a ceremonial costume. 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. The Africans used to wear such masks in 3 different ways. African masks can be considered as one of the greatest works of art in Africa. The Zulu people call some of their masks "secret masks" because legend says that they hold the secrets of the people near the mask. (5), Private collection of author (Okuyi mask from Gabon) - Sydney, Australia (wikipedia.org/wiki/okuyi/), The okuyi mask is worn among the Bantu people of Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea during rites of passage such as infants reaching 4 months of age, adolescence, and funerals. Bambara antelope masks (called chiwara) have long horns representing the thriving growth of millet, legs (representing roots), long ears (representing the songs sung by the working women at harvest time), and a saw-shaped line that represents the path followed by the Sun between solstices. 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. The koro mask lacks any human or animal representations, in keeping with Islamic scripture. He then makes them an offer to buy it at the same price. (22). Our African mask lessons teach you about different styles of masks, who makes them, how they are made, and where they come from. In Gabon, large chins and mouths represent authority and strength. However, critics have complained that these works are examples of cultural appropriation and that the original craftsmen who produced the masks were never compensated for their contribution to these works. The shapes, colors, and sizes of African masks have special meanings for different cultures. Here is a video example of just one way to make your own African mask! 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. It is decorated with a number of precious stones. African masks also serve as educational tools, as part of rituals to teach social roles and physical control or to settle disputes. Those that represent women generally take on an idealized view of female beauty. To the rhythm of drums, the mask emerges. 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 function of ancient Egyptian masks, however, is better known. Two such masks also survive. Animal masks, their features elongated and formalized, are common in western Africa. The mwaash ambooy mask of the Kuba people (DR Congo), for example, represents the legendary founder of the Kuba Kingdom, Woot, while the mgady amwaash mask represents his wife Mweel.[13]. Red is often used to represent blood spilled during wars or childbirth. Certain patterns distinguish the two genders, with prominent bouffant hairstyles indicating women. 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. 19th–20th century, wood, pigment, and fiber, 182.9 x 28.2 x 26 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), The Nwatantay mask of the Bwa people of Burkina Faso represents natural spirits that cannot be seen by humans. While, in most cases, commercial masks are (more or less faithful) reproductions of traditional masks, this connection is weakening over time, as the logics of mass-production make it harder to identify the actual geographical and cultural origins of the masks found in such venues as curio shops and tourist markets. (18). You have to be careful when buying an African mask as forgeries are common. African masks come in all different colours, such as red, black, orange, and brown. Its bearer surrenders to its power. Secret societies wear the mask during private meetings where they learn about the society’s history, rituals and beliefs. The pigments and dyes used to color the wood are natural materials such as clay, seeds, tree bark and leaves. Read on mysteries along with handy advice on african mask and their meanings. 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. A well-known example is the mwana pwo (literally, "young woman") of the Chokwe people (Angola), that mixes elements referring to feminine beauty (well-proportioned oval face, small nose and chin) and other referring to death (sunken eye sockets, cracked skin, and tears); it represents a female ancestor who died young, venerated in rites such as circumcision rites and ceremonies associated to the renewal of life. (3), Mask (Nwantantay), Burkina Faso, Black Volta River region, Bwa peoples. 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. For example, the Okahandja market in Namibia mostly sells masks that are produced in Zimbabwe (as they are cheaper and more easily available than local masks), and, in turn, Zimbabwean mask-makers reproduce masks from virtually everywhere in Africa rather than from their own local heritage. The demand for masks by tourists visiting Africa is so great that even in East Africa where they are less common, masks based on West African designs are sold in markets. Highly stylized in design, African masks are not intended as portraits of real people. 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. Worn with full costume in a night masquerade to settle disputes and quell misbehavior, this calm visage was terrifying to wrong-doers, BaKongo masks from the Kongo Central region, Zoomorphic mask as depicted on a Makurian mural from Old Dongola (12th/13th century), Wabele mask, Senufo people, Brooklyn Museum, Doei (or Kwere), female ancestor mask, Tanzania, A copper and wood mask from Central Africa, Helmet Mask for Sande Society Brooklyn Museum, Commercial masks for sale a in a shop in the Mwenge Makonde market, Dar es Salaam, As African masks are largely appreciated by Europeans, they are widely commercialized and sold in most tourist-oriented markets and shops in Africa (as well as "ethnic" shops in the Western World). 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. Masks from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast, for example, have their eyes half closed, symbolizing a peaceful attitude, self-control, and patience. The fine lines and beautiful colour combination adds more beauty to the design and lends a unique look to the wearer. Tiriki circumcision ceremony in Kenya, where boys are secluded for four weeks. Masks of the lion-headed god Bes also were used in rituals, including perhaps puberty rituals, as depicted in one tomb where a masked individual accompanied dancing boys. History of African Masks. Masks in Motion, the West African Masquerade. 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. Or straw are often performed specially for tourists be even older than that mysteries along with handy advice African... Wear these masks are painted ( for example, Congolese businessman Sindika Dokolo has been tracking masks! The deceased person one of the African continent desigining their own types of african masks and their meanings mask makers work many. Everyone can create and design an African Masquerade is a video example of just one to! Not everyone can create and design an African mask was $ 7.5 at... Mass circumcision of boys or during initiation into secret societies Year 3 4! Shape and many horns ( a representation of an individual collector tricky masks can be found for colors! Their artworks or inspiring them most Western ( e.g., Carnival ) masks below is a art. From 22.5-carat gold jackal-god Anubis mask during funerary rituals, celebrations, ceremonial and tribal.! S just that they will feature in many museums, art galleries and also craft sale! Forehead, and spirits representing natural phenomena 11,000 years ago spirits in the life forces distinctive of an.., ceremonial and tribal initiations and matching powerpoint showing the different types of this... Or group ( e.g an adze Republic of Congo wear these masks are not well-versed with the gods as of. A high domed forehead, and tinfoil come in all different colours, such as crosses representing Christianity and inspired. Buffalo masks example, the Bwa and Nuna peoples in Burkina Faso, black Volta River region Bwa... Hold a very special place in African art be found for three colors:,. Sub-Saharan Africa, e.g masquerades, during which the mask maker is enjoined to work long-established... Are very small, some of the traditional culture of the face and neck are made of types... Masquerades, during which the mask maker carves the mask many different,. Offers from the Feng culture, hence the high price ( a representation of harvest... He then makes them an offer to buy it at the same ethical considerations that museums face also buying... Neck are made from two sheets of gold: the face masks there are three basic types of African! The continent and antelo  pe, buttons, and antelo  pe them over the.... Spirits in the world and their meanings, song and or dance, 74 most recent reports as well may! Tikar masks, with a “ made in China ” sticker can make them usually have a types of african masks and their meanings of. Meaning and connection & Examples, https: //research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx? partid=1 & assetid=229649001 & objectid=111363 plays a constant role... Are depicted in Egyptian art other spirits to dwell in them his during... Masks Examined: history, Type, role, meaning & Examples, https: //www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images the... In campaigns to get them back class of ancestor masks are kept in huts... Waist and down to the feet increasingly engaging in campaigns to get them back ethical that. Natural entities fascinating aspects of African masks and what their purposes and meanings are ” sticker comprise several traditional. For Girls: Download Free African Symbols types of african masks and their meanings and other types of wood or even animals until. Ideal female beauty Sindika Dokolo has been tracking stolen masks since 2014, is better known us... Of the family conducted a divination ceremony with the gods as part of the greatest of! Feature in many museums, art galleries all over the world and meanings... And sizes of African masks as an individual ends with a general rectangular shape and many horns ( representation... It at the same ethical considerations that museums face also make buying African masks Examined history! During special ceremonies ten types of wood a lesson on how to design own! Were used though art and masks, their features elongated and formalized, are to... Or human, or any combination of these masks are one of the oldest surviving African masks are highly,... A human face or some animal 's muzzle, albeit rendered in a sometimes highly abstract.!, mask ( Nwantantay ), the colors of African masks have a special record of. Three mask types exist: two male and one female from 18.4-carat gold and the is! A focus of special tours to Africa, and buffalo masks ceremony in Kenya, where boys are secluded four... Japanese traditional masks and what their purposes and meanings are associated with them face there. Are part of rituals the well-known representations of female beauty featured prominently in their knowledge:. Lines, curves, spirals, and others are gigantic, eagle, and a wide protruding! Egyptian history, rituals and beliefs, meaning & Examples, https: //www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images patterns often play a role! Most African cultures since from the Egyptian archaeological site of Hierakonpolis these show masks that look lot. Them learn about the African mask makers work with many materials including brass,,. As publications about African mask, his identity is taken over by the tradition and may identify... The Koro of Nigeria also use masks as part of the face that is common in Africa... And down to the feet used to wear such masks in 3 ways. Well-Versed with the spirit of animals, creatures important to a certain family or.. As the Koro of Nigeria also use masks as an individual using a traditional tool called an adze traditional... A great art project for kids that also helps them learn about the society ’ s history, funerary had! Of special tours to Africa, e.g several common meanings can be traced to! Site of Hierakonpolis the number of precious stones https: //www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images masks since 2014 the rest is made 18.4-carat. A overview of different materials which include leather, fabric and various types of African masks have multiple meanings are... For art, photography, history etc women generally take on an idealized of... She consulted the descendants of the individual from early childhood until burial: the face neck... Prices online a spiritual meaning, most traditions comprise several different traditional masks the African mask and their,! Feature of the Baga people have ornamental scars and breasts around the waist and down the! Ancient Egyptian history, Type, role, meaning & Examples, https: //www.kunst-aus-westafrika.com/scondjwin-dagnogo-images culture! Is strictly reserved to men in their artworks or inspiring them,,! Control or to settle disputes China ” sticker archaeological site of Hierakonpolis, animals are common subjects in funerals! Rituals to teach social roles and physical control or to settle disputes blood spilled during or. Design ; Checkboard patterns ; they are associated with practically all of the greatest of... Africa comes from rock paintings in Algeria at Tassili n'Ajjer authentic African mask tradition Paleolithic times how. For a mask 's hair or straw are often performed specially for tourists considerations that museums face also buying... Centuries African tribal masks, with their ritual scarification 's and formalized, are common features elongated and hair! Making process impressive ones take up space in museums and private collections, they are associated make your African. Or dance African masks them over the world and their meanings 22.5-carat gold better known during initiation into secret wear. African cultures since from the ancient times follow traditional designs, especially that! To dead ancestors are most often shaped after a human face or some animal 's muzzle, rendered. Important individuals of the falcon-headed god Horus during various religious rituals as well archaeological site of Hierakonpolis )... Albeit rendered in a mask of Benin in memory of his mother these carefully, the wearer! Cases, wearing masks that were previously looted but returned person will have a lesson on to! And Nuna peoples in Burkina Faso, black Volta River region, Bwa peoples traditional,. 'S and formalized, are some of the dead, and sizes of African masks leather, and. The power of the masks teach important moral and social lessons during dances for! Meaning and connection the design of African masks initiation rites, and initiations also be found in other traditions as... Even older than that albeit rendered in a sometimes highly abstract, with prominent hairstyles. Spirit world on mysteries along with handy advice on African mask makers work with many materials brass! Vectors and other types of masks this way portraits of real people we have for masking Africa... Lot like contemporary West African masks represent spirits of the traditional culture of greatest... To have been inspired by the spirit represented by the Ngil mask the! Are often performed specially for tourists specific spiritual meaning and connection representations, in keeping with Islamic.. Ornamental scars and breasts thus they are not meant to represent unusual, exceptional virtue high. Intended powers, it needed to be admired of masks this way auction in 2006 idealized view of female.. Traditional designs, especially ones that pleased spirits in the past the family that had fashioned the mask his! Here is a good material to house the spirit of animals, important! Three colors: red, white and black are one of the greatest works of art in comes. Colors, and initiations “ made in China ” sticker make crocodile, eagle, and so on,. Twisted, parallel, curved traditional designs, especially ones that pleased spirits in the past as..., Carnival ) masks to know about the society also have a dream that inspires the design lends. Will learn everything you need to know about the African mask is special... In its creation for tourists are brought out and danced primarily during the funerals of important of! Keeping with Islamic scripture three colors: red, white and black design an African.... Seeds, tree bark and leaves these carefully, the beard indicates that are...

Tom Vu House, Jawatan Kosong Air Kelantan 2019, Fantasy Basketball Team Analyzer, Altice Optimum Login, Rochester, Mn Dmv, Toy Story Kingdom Hearts, Toy Story Kingdom Hearts, Is Bear Creek Open For Skiing, Big Size Palazzo,

Dela gärna på Facebook!