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Mask of Africa Essay

  • Submitted by: Jermaine3
  • on April 15, 2015
  • Category: Arts and Music
  • Length: 937 words

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Below is an essay on "Mask of Africa" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Masks Of Africa


Since the earliest times masks have played an important role in the culture of Africa. Masks have varied in appearance and function. Many masks are associated with religious ceremonies, myth, dance, rituals or are concerned with spirits of the dead, rites, or even curing sickness. The mask has been used by the Africans mainly to solve major human and social problems. When a man wears a mask his identity is hidden and the expression on the mask projects a new identity. If the features on the mask are unnatural such as an abstract from an animal, it will make the mask emit a more effective and dramatic identity.   Because the person is wearing a mask the human identity is hidden so the viewer is unsettled, this causes the man wearing the mask to be strange or unpredictable, this leads the viewer to become fascinated so the masked man can deceive the viewer.

Masks representing harmful spirits were often used to keep a required balance of power. This type of mask was often associated with secret societies, especially in Africa, which has the greatest variety of masks on Earth.

In ancient Egypt priests used masks to represent gods. Masks were also placed upon the face of mummies to keep alive the appearance of the deceased after death or to give a boost to him and his image.

Masks use different facial features such as idealizing human features, frightening features, animal features and naturalistic features to give a deeper meaning to what the mask is meant to express.

Masks were often used as a form of ranking in villages, for example a mighty warrior who is known to have a lot of strength would be presented with a mask that would describe this type of strength (e.g. a wolf’s mask) whereas the village’s leader would have a distinct mask that no one else has, as a symbol of his power and status in the elite, e.g. (an eagle’s mask).

Masks may also be used to help identify the members of a village or tribe by having a certain colour or...

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