African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang mask
Fang mask of Ngil (N° 20666)
Spectacular elongation of the face for this Fang mask ending in a pout. The African Fang mask, sculpted on the eve of the ceremonies, was intended to unmask the sorcerers. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, it was also used during initiations out of sight of the profane. Granular surface coated with locally abraded kaolin. Intact raffia border.
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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 fright. This type of mask was used by the Ngil male society which no longer exists today. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft.
The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla. As a guarantor of peace, it also determined the seasons, the location where the villages were to be established, and the conditions for the exploitation of agricultural land.
The bearers of these masks, always in large numbers, made their appearance at night, lit by torches. Their intervention was also linked to the judicial function by designating 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 a political unit. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil.
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