African art > Mask > Fang Mask
Ngil's Fang Mask (N° 18180)
Very graphic, this mask intended to unmask the sorcerers, sculpted on the eve of the ceremonies, reflects the desire to capture the mysteries of the night and intimidate the opposing forces. Accompanied by words, gestures, dances and sacrifices, he also intervened during initiations out of sight of the laymen. Patine mate polychrome.
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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. As a guarantee of peace, he also fixed the seasons, the location where the villages were to be located, and the conditions for the exploitation of agricultural land.
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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