Tribal art > African mask > Fang mask
Fang Ngil mask (N° 14573)
Designed to unmask sorcerers, this large mask, generally whitened with kaolin, sculpted on the eve of the ceremonies, expresses the desire to capture the mysteries of the night and to intimidate the harmful powers. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, it was also used during initiations out of sight of the profane. Velvety ochre matt patina. Lower contour eroded.
The appearance of these masks, generally coated with kaolin (the white color evokes the power of the ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause fright. This type of mask was used by the Ngil male society which no longer exists today. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft.
The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla. As a guarantor of peace, it also determined the seasons, the location where the villages were to be established, and the conditions for the exploitation of agricultural land.
The bearers of these masks, always in large numbers, made their appearance at night, lit by torches. Their intervention was also linked to the judicial function by designating the culprits of bad deeds within the village. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaoundé in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had a political unit. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil.
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