African art > Mask > Fang Mask
Masquette Fang (N° 15096)
Gabon's Rituals of Justice and African masks. Sunk under a prominent forehead the pupils of this mask print an inflexible character to the face. The prognathic jaw on which the thin mouth is inscribed also gives a determined character. The summit ridge recalls one of the many hairstyles of the Fang.Patine two-tone people, kaolin residue.
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The appearance of these kaolin-coated masks (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 male society ngil in northwestern Gabon, southern Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft. The 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 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 any political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as so and ngil. Following his trip to the region in 1851, Paul du Chaillu drew a portrait of Fang in his book entitled "Voyages and Adventures in Equatorial Africa". His story, long considered fallacious, portrays the Fangs as belligerent, superstitious and anthropophages. It is only later that the correctness of her testimony will be admitted and recognized by her peers
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