3 Purposes Behind the African Masks

Some of you may be interested in purchasing one of our beautifully made African masks, but may not know anything about them, or why they exist.  So we decided we would write up a “mini” lesson on these masks and some examples of the meanings behind them.


1.)  Used for Ritualistic purposes
african maskDepending on what country, and region the ritual is being placed, the mask normally means the person who wears a mask theoretically loses their human identity.  These masks are used for dances at African ceremonies such as weddings, initiations, and funerals.  In some cases, the person who wears the mask becomes a type of medium that communicates between the tribe and spirits.


2.)  To Portray the Specific Culture’s Ideal of Feminine Beauty

This ideal of what feminine beauty was varied from tribe to tribe as well.  The masks representing a female mask might have almond-shaped eyes, a thin chin, and long curved eyelashes.  Usually these masks were only worn by the men in the tribes.


3.)  To Portray the Culture’s Ancestors

For most African traditional cultures, the dead is a common subject for masks, so it is not surprising that they would model these masks after their ancestors.  Some of the ancestor masks are related to historic figures or legends.



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