AFRICAN MASKS. African Tribal Artist. The African tribal artist's training, which may last many years, involves the knowledge of traditional carving techniques and how these apply to the social and religious objects he creates.
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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.
They come to life, possessed by their spirit in the performance of the dance, and are enhanced by both the music and atmosphere of the occasion.
Some combine human and animal features to unite man with his natural environment. This bond with nature is of great importance to the African and through the ages masks have always been used to express this relationship.Function of the African Mask
1. Trees are in plentiful supply in the forest.
2. The carver believes that the tree has a spiritual soul and its wood is the most natural home for the spirit in the mask.
Most patterns tend to be geometrical and symmetrical and are used in a variety of ways
Parallel, zigzag, cruciform, curved and spiral lines, representing scarification marks or tattoos, are frequently used to adorn the planes of the mask face. These can denote social status or have magical or religious powers.
Different geometric patterns are sometimes used to distinguish between male and female masks
Square and triangular checkerboard grids are often carved to decorate sections of a design.
A variety of complex braided hairstyles adorn the top of the head.Patterns in the Mask
1. The traditional style that is dictated by the social and religious beliefs of the community
It is used in dances during harvest festivals and in processions to honour distinguished visitors.
The circular face represents the life-giving force of the sun and the horns symbolise the great power of the buffalo.
The mask is made of wood with two holes cut into the eyes to enable the wearer to see.
The rectangular mouth is also typical of this type of mask.Baule Mask