By Kinjal Trivedi
Did you watch the movie, “The Mask” that I suggested last week?
It’s a fun movie, isn’t it?
So maybe now I can tell you more about masks and their origin.
Many countries have different styles of masks that has been used for various purposes.
Today I’d like to tell you about African masks. Many generations ago during spiritual practices like birth, wedding, funeral and prayers, masks were worn by people of authority. It is believed that these masks are only made by men who are spiritual and making of these sacred masks is passed down generations. Something of a family tradition.
These masks once worn by the person in authority possess spiritual power to carry out a fruitful and important task. Mostly used to connect with their ancestors and animal spirits. In a good way!
Men and women have distinguished characteristics. Although symmetry in faces was an important design element, the women had softer lines and male masks were more angular, and geometrical forms were used. Angry masks had grainy or rough texture and happy masks were smooth and shiny. Some local elements like animal hair, feathers, straw, horns, teeth, and seashells were often used as embellishment.
Depending on the region and availability of resources, masks are made out of wood, metals (bronze and copper), fabric or stone. They were worn on faces, over the head as headgear, on shoulders or even as a cap. Must be a cool cap to wear!
Even today, if you visit any country in Africa, you will be able to see many stores selling masks appropriate to that particular region.
Maybe you can pick up a happy mask for yourself!