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What is the symbolism and relevance of the "mask", a predominant type of art in all African cultures?

This question is part of African Art: A Quiz
Asked by Twibby, Last updated: Sep 15, 2020

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L. Hawkes

L. Hawkes

L. Hawkes
L. Hawkes, Teacher, Memphis

Answered Aug 17, 2018

African masks are seen as part of the ceremonial costume. They are used in religious and social events to represent spirits of ancestors or to control the good and evil in the community. They come to life, as they are possessed by their spirit in the performance of the dance. The bond of nature is essential to the African and masks are used to express this relationship. The masks can also represent the spirit of the animal.

Several African tribes believe that wearing animal carvings on their masks will improve communication with animal spirits. For example, the lion is a symbol of courage, and the monkey represents comedy and friendship. Ritual ceremonies often depict deities, spirits of ancestors and mythological beings. During the ceremony, the dancer goes into a deep trance, and he communicates with his ancestors.

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twibby8

twibby

twibby8
Twibby

Answered Aug 29, 2017

They represented a deity, ancestor, or spirit, and acted as an embodiment for their values, or a conduit during rituals and celebrations
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