African art > African mask > Fang Mask
Ngil's Fang Mask (N° 18583)
This African Fang mask illustrates one of the many stylistic variations of the Ngil Fang masks, distinguished by their austere appearance. The face is highlighted with parallel grooves evoking the tribal scarifications in use, and the hairstyle takes up one of the many models worn by the locally abraded bleached Fang.Patine.
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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 male society ngil which no longer exists today. 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, 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 so and ngil .
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