masks can be traced back to well past Paleolithic times. These art
objects were, and are still made of various materials, included are leather,
metal, fabric and various types of wood.
African masks are considered amongst the finest creations in the art world and
sought after by art collectors. Many of the pieces some replica's, can
be viewed in museums and art galleries in many parts of the world.
Masking ceremonies in Africa have great cultural and traditional
significance. Latest developments and understanding of Aesthetic
principles, religious and ceremonial values, have brought about a
greater insight into the ideas and moral values that African
artists express in their art.
During celebrations, initiations, crop
harvesting, war preparation, peace and trouble times, African masks are
worn by a chosen or initiated dancer. It can be worn in three different
ways: vertically covering the face: as helmets, encasing the entire
head, and as crest, resting upon the head, which was commonly covered by
material as part of the disguise. African masks often represent a spirit
and it is strongly believed that the spirit of the ancestors possesses
Ritual ceremonies generally depict deities,
spirits of ancestors, mythological beings, good and or evil, the
dead, animal spirits, and other beings believed to have power over
humanity. Masks of human ancestors or totem ancestors (beings or animals
to which a clan or family traces its ancestry) are often objects of
family pride; when they are regarded as the dwelling of the spirit they
represent, the masks may be honored with ceremonies and gifts.