Tribal art > African mask > Fang mask
Fang mask (N° 21977)
Justice rituals and African Fang masks.
The protruding forehead, extended by a powerful nose, dominates here the flatness of the face in which the eyes and the mouth are incised. The engraved motifs, referring to the scarifications in use, are enhanced with pink ocher and black. An exceptional patina of use is partially flaking, erosions mark the contours.
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Dense wood, dry abraded patina. Cracks of desiccation.
The appearance of these masks coated with kaolin (the white color evokes the power of the ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause dread. This type of mask was used by the male ngil society in northwestern Gabon, southern Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft.
The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla.
The wearers of these masks, always in large numbers, appeared at night, lit by torches. Their intervention was also linked to the judicial function by pointing out 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 political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and the ngil.
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