To the Western world masks are the most commonly known art form of Africa. They can be admired for there aesthetic beauty and craftsmanship. Although the artistry of the African masks is evident, for the people who create them they have a meaning much deeper than surface beauty. African masks are danced to make a connection between the human and the spirit worlds, to convey ideas, and to reinforce social controls and religious beliefs. Masks are danced or performed at funerals, initiation ceremonies, reenactments of legends, and to ask a spirit's blessing for the prosperity and protection of an individual, family or community. Some of the spirits these masks evoke are represented in mask depicting women, royalty and animals.
In this exhibition I will be presenting to you a few examples of African masks. I have chosen masks from several African societies in my quest to give you examples from the different places and people of Africa. The labels next to the images of masks conveys general information about that mask. For more information you may click on the arrow at the end of the label. That arrow will lead you to information on costumes, more detail about ceremonies and background, and more information on the dancing of the mask or a combination of the above. You will also be able to view variations of the primary mask and some context photos. To get a larger view of any mask click on that image. To locate the society a mask comes from click on the map of Africa. I hope that you enjoy the exhibition.
Portraits of African Women
Representations of Royalty
The Symbolism of Animals
Map of AfricaExhibition by Atalaya Jones