The oldest surviving African masks come from the Egyptian archaeological site of Hierakonpolis. For example, the Poro secret societies of the Senufo people of the Ivory Coast have masks that celebrate the exceptional power of the society by merging three different "danger" symbols: antelope horns, crocodile teeth, and warthog fangs.  Antelope = agriculture, enable better crops Elephant = wealth, success Lion = royalty Zebra = unity 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). Its bearer surrenders to its power. The people who CAN make them usually have a special record held of something special that they did. [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. (7), Muslim communities such as the Koro of Nigeria also use masks as part of rituals. The most common animal used for masks are buffalo, hyena, crocodile, and antelo  pe. The record paid for an African mask was $7.5 million at an auction in 2006. Made from two sheets of gold: the face and neck are made from 18.4-carat gold and the rest is made from 22.5-carat gold. Certain patterns distinguish the two genders, with prominent bouffant hairstyles indicating women. 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. Geometric and symmetrical patterns often play a prominent role in the design of African masks. 7. 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. Masks that represent animals are popular. For example, Congolese businessman Sindika Dokolo has been tracking stolen masks since 2014. The meaning of African Masks always have a spiritual meaning and connection. African mask makers work with many materials including brass, copper, bronze, brass, terracotta and glazed pottery, raffia and fabrics. Not everyone can create and design an African Mask. Two such masks also survive. They are not meant to represent actual people or even animals. 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. By the early 20th century, the same masks came to be regarded as art objects and were collected by and displayed in art museums. [1] This transformation of the mask wearer into a spirit usually relies on other practices, such as specific types of music and dance, or ritual costumes that contribute to the shedding of the mask-wearer's human identity. By copying these carefully, the artists believe that they will attract other spirits to dwell in them. There are three known types of masks depicting animal-headed gods from ancient Egypt. Some are very small, some are life-size, and others are gigantic. 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. You can decorate it with paint, feathers, cotton, yarn, buttons, and tinfoil. Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture of the peoples of a part of Sub-Saharan Africa, e.g. A few West African peoples believe, in fact, that the creators of masks are potentially capable of using the object’s supernatural powers to cause harm to others. A frican masks should be seen as part of a ceremonial costume. Others symbolize totem animals, creatures important to a certain family or group. Making an African mask is a great art project for kids that also helps them learn about cultures. For many centuries African Tribal masks, played a major role in rituals, celebrations, ceremonial and tribal initiations. (22). Sometimes a person will have a dream that inspires the design of a mask. Masks from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast, for example, have their eyes half closed, symbolizing a peaceful attitude, self-control, and patience. History of African Masks. African masks represent spirits of the dead, and spirits representing natural phenomena. Many agricultural societies and associations in Mali have a stylized representation of an antelope in their symbols. Stylish elements in a mask's looks are codified by the tradition and may either identify a specific community or convey specific meanings. In fact, some of the most impressive ones take up space in museums and art galleries all over the world. While they are found in many of the world's museums and art collections, these displays do not do justice to the important cultural role they play in performative rituals across much of the continent. Alluring Africa Tattoo Design for Girls: 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. 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. 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