African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang mask
Fang Ngil mask (N° 21729)
Intended to unmask wizards, this white kaolin mask, sculpted on the eve of ceremonies, reflects the desire to intimidate the occult powers. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, he also intervened during initiations out of the sight of laymen. Velvety mat patina. Erosions and cracks.
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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 fear. This type of mask was used by the ngil male society which no longer exists today. This secret society was responsible for initiations and fought against witchcraft.
The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla. Guarantor of peace, he also fixed the seasons, the location where the villages were to be established, and the operating conditions of agricultural land.
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 designating the culprits of bad actions 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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