African art > African mask > Fang Mask
Large Fang mask of the Ngil (N° 19237)
Rituals of justice and African masks Fang.
The facial features of this fang mask are underlined up to the gaping, toothed mouth of the lateral extension of a thick fringe of eyebrows. The eyelids coated in red ochre are bordered with perforations for vision, while a significant relief forms the nose.
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The appearance of these masks 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 male society ngil in the northwest of Gabon, in the south of Cameroon, and in Equatorial Guinea. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft.
The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla.
The wearers of these masks, always in large numbers, appeared at night, illuminated 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, never had political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and ngil.
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