African art > Mask > Ngil Mask
Large Fang mask of Ngil (N° 16548)
This African Fang mask forms one of the many variants of Ngil's Fang masks, a full-length volume in which high orbital cavities contain thin eye slits, a nasal appendage marked with parallel ribs and patterns engraved on the bleached surface. The bulging mouth, pigmented with pink ochre, is altered. Long cracks.
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The appearance of these kaolin-coated masks (the white color evokes the power of ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause dread. This type of mask was used by the men's society ngil which no longer exists today. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft. The ngil was a purifying fire rite 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 identifying the culprits of bad deeds within the village. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaounde in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had any political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as so and ngil.
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