• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

African Masks.

Extracts from this document...


African Masks Masks are used almost in every African tribe. These masks are used for different purposes related to religion, politics and culture. They are used in ceremonies like weddings and funerals, initiation ceremonies, honor, politics and witchcraft. In Burkina Faso there is a tribe called Nuna, their tribe has a mask that is called The Buffalo Mask. This mask has large round eyes that stand out, surrounded by circles. It has a short triangular snout and decorative geometric patterns on the surface. This mask is made of wood and pigment. The Nuna people dance with this mask on market days, funerals and initiation ceremonies. Each mask has a special song and each dancer makes a solo. The purpose of this mask is to honor the powerful animal spirits living in the world around them and gain their protection and blessings. (Caleb) The Buffalo mask is used for a religious purpose that is to obtain the protection of the animal spirits, there is another mask called Nwantantay that is also used for this religious purpose. The Bwa people from Cote d'Ivoire have a mask called Nwantantay. This mask has an abstract geometric form that has patterns that only the initiated men know what they mean. ...read more.


The performance is supposed to bring fertility to the women. It also teaches good manners to the spectators. This performance reminds the boys in the initiation ceremony that death is part of the initiation experience of death and rebirth; it also idealizes the feminine values. (Caleb) Initiation ceremonies are very important in some African tribes so these tribes make masks for the ceremonies; masks are used only for important things. The Songye people think they are partly human, animal and spiritual so their masks look like that. The Kitwebe mask from the Songye people in Zaire has an abstract face. The Songye people think they are partly human, animal and spiritual; so their masks are like that. The mask has powerful features that are like parts of some animals. The eye slits represent the "holes of termites" and the "swelling of sorcerers". The chin represents the snout of a crocodile. This mask has a long pointed mouth that represents the beak of a bird and the "flame of a sorcerer". The incised grooves represent the dark and light stripes of dangerous animals. It has raffia fibers on the holes in the chin that represents the mane of a lion. The female mask has white that symbolizes peace, beauty, goodness, wisdom and reproduction. ...read more.


The Sande society is responsible for the education of the Mende women. This type of masks is worn during the initiation ceremony. It is made with a polished wood. It represents the desirable aspects of female beauty (Sassonian /Art Resorce, Encarta 98). The Sandi society uses the mask for religious purposes. Other societies from West and Central Africa use their masks for cultural purposes. Masks are meant to be seen in action. �The most widely imaginative of all African sculpture, their mysterious, tortured and terrifying lines expressed the supernatural forces�(World Encyclopedia, 96). Some types of masks are worn during rites, as well as ceremonies of the secret societies in West and Central Africa. These societies varied in nature from mutual assistance, dancers almost always accompanied funerals, festivals and other important occasions with masks. The quality of much of this dancing came from the wearer's belief in spirits represented by the masks strange forces, often into deep trances and danced for hours without stopping. (World Encyclopedia, 96) Most of the African tribes use masks and they only use them for important things like religious ceremonies, politics and witchcraft. Each tribe has masks for what they need or think is important. Some masks are not only used for one purpose, there can be one mask used for politics, religion and culture. Masks are an important part of African cultures. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work