African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang mask
Fang mask (N° 21398)
Intended to unmask sorcerers, this kaolin-bleached helmet mask, which was carved on the eve of ceremonies, reflects the desire to capture the mysteries of the night and to intimidate opposing forces. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, this type of mask was also used during initiations out of sight of the profane. Dull patina, erosions and missing pieces.
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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 guarantor of peace, the ngil also fixed the seasons, the location where villages were to be established, and the conditions of 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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