The History of African Mask

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In the earliest era, before the Paleolithic era, the local people of Africa believed that with the different masks a different soul was being represented. The souls could be animals, ancestors, and it even could be mythological heroes.  Many African Masks are shaped like human faces as well as animal heads, the animal head that would usually come up the most was the Antelope. The Antelope was often created and worn because it mainly symbolizes agriculture so that they could have better crops. Most African Masks were passed down from generations to generations, each with a different story to tell. With many of the African villages being close to a forest, they would have a ton of different kinds of wood. The Maker, a person, (most likely a man) would create the masks and then pass it down to his son, would use a tree because they thought that each tree had its own spiritual soul.

The Maker would usually carve out the wood from the tree, and a sacrifice was made so that they could please the spirit that would be living in the mask, then after the sacrifice, they carved the mask the way that they wanted it to look. After they thought the shape was the way that they wanted, they would make sure that the shape was even on both sides. Most African Masks were symmetrical and rarely uneven. After the mask was the way they wanted they often colored the masks with the natural dyes, which were created with vegetables, plants, seeds, tree bark, soil and mashed up insects. After the mask was painted they added on some other materials that would stick off the mask and be decoration. They used wood, pottery, textiles (cloth), copper and bronze. Other details would be made from animal teeth, animal hair, animal bones, animal horns, feathers, straw, seashells and even egg shells.

With the Masks meaning different reasons they also had different looks. The animal masks were obviously shaped like the animal that it was created after, some animal examples are buffalo, hyena, hawk, crocodile and the Antelope. Female masks were also differently shaped they were designed to look after the feminine beauty, the masks had almond shaped eyes with curved eyelashes and a pointed chin. And the masks that represented the ancestors were commonly shaped as human skulls, the mask was often used in ceremonies as witnesses.

Even today African Masks are very famous, with many masks still out there worth a fortune, with each mask telling a different story of African History. They are truly amazing.

 

Photo Credit: http://answersafrica.com/african-masks.html

 

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