African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Masquette Fang
Masquette Fang (N° 18605)
African fang rituals and masks. Soft wood, dry patina, granular kaolin residue. Height on a base: 28 cm.
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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 the bad deeds within the village. The Fang ethnic group, based 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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