African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang Mask
Large Fang hem mask (N° 17347)
This African Fang mask illustrates one of the variants of the Ngil's Fang masks, a stretched facies in which assertive features give an austere appearance. The nose fits in length, drawing the eye to a wide mouth with pinched lips. Kaolin-coated surface. The scarfications are raised with red ochre.
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The appearance of these masks, usually coated with kaolin (the white color evokes the power of ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause dread. 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. Ngil was a purifying fire rite symbolized by the gorilla. 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 identifying the culprits of the bad deeds within the village. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaounde 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 ngil.
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