African American Articles

african masks

Some of the African masks are described here as under. Baule mask or the goli mask: It is useful for dance in harvest festivals. It is also used in processions for the purpose of honoring distinguished visitors. It is also used in funerals of important personalities. This mask has a circular face representing sun as a life giving source. Its horns are a symbol of buffalo’s power. Made of wood, the mask has two eyes cut for enabling a person to see. Another typical feature of this mask is the rectangular mouth. Baule mask is named after the farmers – the Baules, inhabiting the Eastern Ivory Coast.

The Biombo mask: Carved from wood, this mask has red colour of “tukula”powder which is a kind of dye of camwood tree. The eyes of this mask are of coffee bean shape. The eyebrows as well as the face planes have a design of a triangular checkerboard. Behind the back there are three forms representing the Biombo hairstyle. At the top of the mask, there are feathers attached. These masks are worn at tribals functions like rituals and ceremonies. The Biombo reside in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where there is intersection of rivers- Luala and Kasai in the south direction.

The Dan mask: With a high forehead, the Dan masks which are considered sacred, have a pouting mouth along with a pointed chin and a scarification mark like that of a line creating a split in forehead and nose . Carved in wood, the Dan mask has a brown dye stain. Useful for protection, they are also used as a tool for communicating with the spirits. These masks are used in festivals and rituals. The dan consists of hunters and farmers, and lives from west Ivory Coast to Liberia.

The Ligbi mask: These masks are useful in celebration of Ramadan, the Islamic holidays. These masks are worn by dancers dancing in pairs with elegant and synchronized movements. With an elongated face, this mask has trimmed wings on the sides of the face. Shaded eyes, a rectangular mouth, this mask has a combination of animal as well as human forms. When used in the celebration, ligbi masks are decorated with make-up and jewellery. The ligbis have a relation with Senufo. They live in Ivory Coast but originally are from Ghana.

The Lwalwa mask: These masks are styled with simple geometric forms representing the facial features. Rectangular holes as eyes and long flat triangle as the nose reaching the head top, the ears as small bumps, a mouth which is stylized and projecting with a pointed chin, the lwalwa masks made from the wood ‘mulela’ and dyed ‘mukula’ fruit also known as ‘sealing wax’ tree. The lwalwa sculptors are highly paid and among the tribes privileged members. The lwalwa people have relation with Lulua and reside in southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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