African art > Mask > Dogon Mask
Dogon Kanaga polychrome mask (N° 18008)
African Kanaga Mask of the Dogon./
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In the funeral rites, members of the Awa society, dance with masks on the roof of the house of the dead, to lead his soul (nyama) to its eternal rest and to defend the living. The Kanaga mask is also used to protect hunters from revenge from the prey they have killed.
This example is designed with a recurring structure: a vertical central plank, with arms attached by leather ties and an anthropozoomorphic mask with angular features. The polychrome pigments, forming an abraded crusty patina, were refreshed before each performance. Desication cracks.
In the preliminary to the funeral or mourning, many almost all identical copies appear on the dance floor, after having circulated in the alleys of the village. Depending on the degree of initiation, this mask will not have the same meaning when it is released during the mourning ceremony or during more festive exhibitions. It will be the Komolo bird, or, for the initiate, the Creator indicating the gesture heaven and earth. Its meaning, however, remains unclear. The wearers of this mask make a circular motion with their heads and then lower themselves towards the ground and suddenly straighten themselves in order to establish a link between the ground and the sky.
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