African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Fang Mask
Ngil's Fang Mask (N° 19721)
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A classic example of the African Fang mask, a mask of justice whose gravity is expressed by a long face, narrow pupils, and a pouting mouth. Engraved motifs on the gray surface evoke the tribal scarifications in use. Abraded patina, erosions.
The appearance of these masks, generally coated with kaolin (the white color evokes the power of the ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause fright. 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 bearers of these masks, always in large numbers, made their appearance at night, lit by torches. Their intervention was also linked to the judicial function by designating the culprits of bad deeds within the village. The Fang ethnic group, established in a region stretching from Yaoundé in Cameroon to Ogooué in Gabon, has never had a political unity. Clan cohesion was maintained through religious and judicial associations such as the so and the ngil.
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