African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang mask
Fang mask (N° 22518)
Intended to unmask sorcerers, this type of mask was carved on the eve of ceremonies. The austere physiognomy was meant to counter occult powers. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, it also intervened during initiations out of sight of the profane. Velvety matte patina. Erosions, chips.
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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 for the exploitation of agricultural land.
The Fang ethnic group, established in a region extending 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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