African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang mask
Fang mask (N° 22138)
Originally intended to unmask sorcerers, this whitewashed kaolin mask, sculpted on the eve of ceremonies, reflects a desire to intimidate. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, it also intervened during initiations out of sight of the profane. Velvety matte 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 terror. 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. Guarantor of peace, he also fixed the seasons, the location where the villages were to be established, and the conditions of exploitation of the 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 pointing out 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 political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and the ngil.