African art > African mask > Fang Mask
Ngil's Fang Mask (N° 18202)
Rituals of justice and African masks Fang. Housed under the mass of the forehead, the concave face, stretched, extends from a narrow chin in galoche with a severe pout.
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Bois soft, locally abraded grainy dry patina.
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. Following his journey to the region in 1851, Paul du Chaillu painted a portrait of Fang in his book Voyages and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. His account, long considered fallacious, depicts the Fang as belligerent, superstitious and anthropophage. It is only later that the correctness of his testimony will be admitted and recognized by his peers
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