African Mask

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

African Masks The following is a general over view of African Masks. If you are interested in collecting African mask from galleries or even primary sources we are going to establish some links which take you to places where masks are for sale. Stay withrepparttar site as it progresses andrepparttar 116080 links will be established to useful African Masks contacts.

Those of you who are thinking of a collecting trip to Africa may well findrepparttar 116081 following site useful. There are still places in Africa where genuine old masks can be bought, generally through dealers. Also watch out for fakes as they do abound. Remember buy things you like as investment can go up as well as down. If you like that carving or mask thenrepparttar 116082 value is not as important. The link is, seerepparttar 116083 Carvings page link.

The African masks of this area are well documented by Ladislas Segy in Masks of Black Africa. Much ofrepparttar 116084 following section on African Masks is influenced by his work.

The African masking traditions of this part ofrepparttar 116085 World are extremely fertile and varied. The traditions supportingrepparttar 116086 masks are generally associated withrepparttar 116087 spirits of ancestors, rites of passage, fertility and initiation ceremonies. Dance is generally involved inrepparttar 116088 use ofrepparttar 116089 masks. Segy listsrepparttar 116090 following types of ritual:-

Rituals of cosmology, myth and mythological heroes or animals Fertility rites Rituals for increase Agricultural festivals Rituals for rites of passage Ancestor cults Initiations including secret societies

Related Ceremonies

Masks can be used for different ceremonies often having multiple purposes. The size and style of masks are diverse, depicting animals, human faces and more abstract styles in sizes from a few centimetres to 4.5 metres inrepparttar 116091 case ofrepparttar 116092 Dogon Iminana ( mother mask ). With only a few exceptionsrepparttar 116093 masks are all part of a full costume and not just an isolated piece of decoration.. Segy notes:-

Face coverings Helmet masks Headdresses Masks with prominent breasts Amulets Insignia of grade Crowns of bead work


Wood The major material was wood due torepparttar 116094 large forest and range of species available. The choosing of a tree from which to make a mask was not as we might do today, find one and chop it down. Ratherrepparttar 116095 carver would seekrepparttar 116096 help of a diviner and undergo a purification ceremony and whenrepparttar 116097 first blow was struck he would drink some ofrepparttar 116098 sap in order to form a brotherhood withrepparttar 116099 tree?s spirit. Mask would be carved from one piece of wood with nothing jointed, with some ofrepparttar 116100 masks this created severe technical difficulties whenrepparttar 116101 early carvers only had simple tools. Usually green timber was used as this was easier to cut. Certain varieties would be used for some special masks, but in generalrepparttar 116102 softer woods were used

Ivory was used byrepparttar 116103 Warega and Benin. The ivory wasrepparttar 116104 property ofrepparttar 116105 Benin kings (Oba) and they wererepparttar 116106 only ones to wear ivory as a mark of office. The carving ofrepparttar 116107 Warega was not as refined but has a strong impact.

Brass was used byrepparttar 116108 Benin, Senufo and Ashanti.

Other Materials Knitted materials were used as were beadwork, basketry and fabrics. Additional materials included :- shells, beads, twigs, bark, teeth, hair, beaten or repousse metal, vegetable fibres and skin, to mention a few.

West Africa The masks of this area are well documented by Ladislas Segy in Masks of Black Africa. His book listsrepparttar 116109 following areas:-

The Masked Fool

Written by Ian Bracegirdle

The Masked Fool

The Fool

My first direct experience ofrepparttar fool in masking was watching Morris Dancing here at home in Yorkshire, England. The Morris dancers were dressed up in their usual dancing shoes with bells and baggy pants. To be absolutely honest I have always found Morris men a bit funny! Perhaps I should explain about Cecil Sharp, no I'll leave that to a footnote.

The Boars Head Morris Men were dancing in a pub car park. ( Pub short for Public House a place for drinking beer etc. inrepparttar 116079 UK.) They were doingrepparttar 116080 usual dances that are related to fertility, good crops and harvests etc. But of course they really don't quite haverepparttar 116081 pagan beliefs off pat. Mind you when you see them drink ale inrepparttar 116082 quantities that they did then you would realise that they had perhaps fully understoodrepparttar 116083 pagan ways of having a good time. ( Not to say all people who followrepparttar 116084 pagan ways drink lots of ale, just a convenient concept )

What you are probably asking by this juncture is this to do with fools?

Wellrepparttar 116085 Boars Head Morris Men had a masked fool. He was complete with boars mask pantaloons and boars headed stick. He also carried a bucket for collecting cash donations for charity, or maybe beer money. He followedrepparttar 116086 dancers mimicked them and cajoledrepparttar 116087 watchers for change to fill his bucket.

Interestingly I knewrepparttar 116088 fool quite well and in real life, with outrepparttar 116089 mask, he would never do what he did withrepparttar 116090 mask. Being English he was just far too polite!

The Boars Head stick became a threatened cudgel, never used, just pointed and waved. The mask was a place to hide behind, for a normal everyday person. As you will find by looking further on this siterepparttar 116091 mask allows people to change personalities. He bullied and pranced and enjoyed his dual mission to collect money and to protectrepparttar 116092 dancers fromrepparttar 116093 crowd. Sometimesrepparttar 116094 children get too close. That is not allowed. Sometimesrepparttar 116095 dancers space is threatened by cars enteringrepparttar 116096 parking space. Wow! That is not a good idea!

But suddenlyrepparttar 116097 fool sets off in pursuit of three attractive women. He rattles his bucket and rounds them up as a sheep dog would. They are pressed into donating generously. He just leaves his dancers unprotected to fend for themselves. The next ten minutes is exchanged in good natured banter. ( The wife ofrepparttar 116098 fool is present! )

The above is from memory, probably about 20 years ago. In terms of mask traditions that is very recent. For mask traditions can be traced back at least 25,000 years. I am certain they go back torepparttar 116099 time ofrepparttar 116100 first questioning peoples; 50,000.................or more years?

What then is this reference to fools and masking traditions. Well as you dig through this site you will find thatrepparttar 116101 fool crops up in several other traditions.

In Masqueraderepparttar 116102 fool is an essential figure. Onrepparttar 116103 surface he, occasionally she, isrepparttar 116104 one who keeps order. He controlsrepparttar 116105 children, he stops their prying eyes invadingrepparttar 116106 dressing room. His stick maintainsrepparttar 116107 performance area. He cracks jokes, entertains, juggles pulls faces and GETS VIOLENT. He chasesrepparttar 116108 children with a whip and hits them mercilessly if he getsrepparttar 116109 chance. He tries to seduce women, and does if he can!

Suddenly he becomes bored and goes away to sit and talk philosophically with a group of friends from his unmasked time. Asrepparttar 116110 conversation progresses he introduces new ideas. He begins to ridiculerepparttar 116111 accepted norm. He questionsrepparttar 116112 accepted reality. He attempts to turns arguments on their heads

The Ubiquitous Fool

The fool is a ubiquitous. The fool occurs inrepparttar 116113 masking traditions of North and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, China, ........................ if you know some more please fill in my blank.

Universallyrepparttar 116114 fool treadsrepparttar 116115 line between normality andrepparttar 116116 incongruities thatrepparttar 116117 world. The fool is both sensible and totally none-sensible. Not that he does not use his senses he just uses then in a different way. He questions and cajoles. He jokes and makes fun of others. Yet when someone over stepsrepparttar 116118 arbitrary boundary, (who decided ) he changes. Suddenly he becomesrepparttar 116119 quiet hearth cat,repparttar 116120 sleeping feline, domesticated, sleek and silky. And as you stroke and pleasurerepparttar 116121 cat she begins to become claws and teeth and worse growls. He becomesrepparttar 116122 raging tiger, claws and teeth.

What isrepparttar 116123 role ofrepparttar 116124 fool?

The fool traditionally questions. S/He challengesrepparttar 116125 norm. S/He goes beyondrepparttar 116126 routine and everyday. S/He crossesrepparttar 116127 boundary betweenrepparttar 116128 physical andrepparttar 116129 spiritual. The fool knows both sides but sadly does not understand either. The fool is beyond judgement but is incapable of judging. The fool is a go-between, a hinderer, a creator and destroyer. He sets things up only to break them down.

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