Physical characteristics of African Tribal Masks

Introduction to basic mask forms.

In Africa we have a wide variety of masks from different tribes and cultures. To bring some clarity and understanding it is helpful to classify them into roughly 8 basic types.

EkoiHeaddressESA_0175viewA.jpg (28087 bytes)Headdress: (A good example would be one from the Ekhoi tribe now classified as part of Elagham Nigeria see image to the left) Artists carve cephalomorphic and zoomorphic mask. The headdress and masks are covered with antelope skin this is one of the main characteristics associated with this tribe. The basket at the base is the shape of the top portion of the head. The costume is normally made of plant fiber and or raffia and covers the entire body of the mask bearer.

NIA_0247.jpg (29613 bytes)Face mask: this is the most common type found throughout Africa (see sample image to the right: Chokwe tribe). The mask covers the face and has holes along the side. Before the wearer dons the costume his assistants will rub his/her body with a covering of natural oil, this serve as protection against evil spirits. The mask is then placed over the face and attached to the head opening of the costume. Thereafter a skirt made of vegetable fibers is attached around the waist. In some instances the entire body is covered with fiber or raffia. View the catalog here and the history of the Chokwe here

bwamask_SAL_2724frontview.jpg (37771 bytes)Horizontal plank mask: Bwa tribe Burkino Faso, (see sample image to the right) these types of masks is worn on top of the head and it resembles an owl or bird in flight. The underside is carved to the shape of the head. View the catalog here

Helmet Masks is carved from a solid piece of tree trunk, it is hollowed to fit over the head and with carved out openings for the eyes, mouth and nose. This type of mask is commonly found among the Sande - Liberia and the Mende - Sierra Leone.

body_mask_EBR_2870.jpg (47110 bytes)Body or Belly Mask (see image to the left) from the Makonde tribe, Southeastern Tanzania. Carved from a solid tree trunk the hollow fits to the fron of the body. The mask is normally part of the costume of a Ndimu masker and are normally worn by a male masquerader together with a matching face mask.

Helmet Crest:

Cap Crest:

Shoulder mask:

Multi wearer mask:

Coon Mask: Origin South Africa. This type of mask is handcoon_mask.jpg (43489 bytes) painted and serves as a disguise and comical face from way back when emancipation of slaves was proclaimed. (see Slaves at the Cape). The newfound freedom of slaves led to the biggest celebrations at the time. They came out in grand style; along with song and dance accompanied by traditional music. Colonial masters detested the celebrations calling it "barbaric".  

The comical smiling disguise allowed slaves to dance right in the face of colonial masters singing at the top of his voice almost in a way as to vent all the pent up frustrations without being identified, hence no punishment. For three hundred years and more against all the odds this vibrant and unique carnival still live on in the heart of Cape Town.

Mask, masque, masker maschera, mascara: A cover or disguise as for the features can be associated with a play or dramatic performance where the actors are masked and represent allegorical or mythological subjects. A masquerade. A artistic covering for the face. To put on a mask, assume a disguise.

Also view

bulletAfrican mask catalog and sales
bulletAfrican masks history
bulletAfrica Map

To learn more about tribe culture click the links below

Fang    Beta    Guro   Yoruba    Punu   Tikar   Bamileke   Chokwe   Dan   Igbo   Baule   Kwele   Goli   Teke   Bamoun   Baga   Songye   Toma  Ashanti

 

 

WebSTAT - Free Web Statistics

View Cart
Home
Product Catalog
African masks
African Hats - Kofia 
Juju Hats
Zulu Hats
Chess sets
Ostrich egg art
African Art  Paintings
Djembe - Drums
Jewelry
Accessories
Clothing
Fertility dolls
Shadow Boxes
Bronze Sculpture
Home Decor
Figurines
Granary doors
Candle holders
African Juju Hat
 
Hoodia Gordonii
Kung Bushman Hoodia
S. Africans Robbed from Life Savings
 
Art History
Intro African Art
Mask History
Rock Art San tribe
9 Basic Mask Forms
Djembe History
Traditional Clothing
Bronze sculpture
Tribal Masks
Ceremonial Masks
Africa countries
Fact sheets and info
Flags Of Africa
Maps Of Africa
Map of the continent
South Africa Map
News Africa
War in Africa
HIV/AIDS Africa
Child Abuse Africa
Coon Carnival
S.A. History
Index African History
Apartheid S. Africa
Slaves at the Cape
SA Constitution
SA Bill of Rights
Travel South Africa
S.A Heritage Sites
Cradle Of Humankind
Mapungubwe
Robben Island
St Lucia Wetland
Drakensberg Park
Nature Reserves
Adventure
Links
Health Revolution

Home  Site Map  About Us  Shipping  Guarantee  Testimonials  E-mail  Privacy policy  Contact

How to make a purchase

More Than 1/2 Million Black South Africans Robbed from Life Savings In Black Economic Empowerment Deals


 Copyright Rebirth 2000 You may not use or reproduce text and or images without permission.