Sunday, October 16, 2016

Culture Preservation With African Masks

By Michelle Harris

A mask is a common feature of many cultures around the world. This includes those cultures of the people in Africa. African masks have been and continue to be used for a variety of purposes. These include ceremonial and decorative functions among others.

These adornments were used by tribes to inspire awe and fear in the hearts of enemies. They took on a very important role as a means of intimidation. The mask of a warrior in Africa always had a terrible look and this allowed for many victories in the battles of ancient days. Even the Europeans who ventured into the continent in the first days of exploration were intimidated by them..

African tribal culture features the wearing of masks from birth to death. Religious ceremonies of older tribes and modern ones as well, feature these items. Often, the mask is used to represent a strong area of the faith. Sometimes it is an ancestral spirit that is represented by the mask.Many older burial sites feature corpses with masks on the faces.

Clay is one of the raw materials used to make these Afrocentric mask. Clay is typically used for this purpose.The material can be easily molded into any shape or pattern required. Some people then bake the mask in a special oven or allow it to dry in the sun. A clay mask can always be decorated by the addition of colors and accessories after it has hardened.

Sometimes wood is used in the mask making process. Many of these face coverings are carved from certain types of wood. The wood is carved into the desired shape, cured and decorated by mask makers. Softer wood is more suitable for the amount of carving required and so this is the preferred material for mask makers. Wooden masks are often created in actual and miniature sizes as souvenirs for tourists. Popularly visited sites in the continent are known to have them on sale so their guests can take a memorabilia of the great continent home with them.

People who work in entertainment, education or culture related fields often need these masks. They use them to recreate the look of tribe members of the older African civilizations. Dance pieces that reflect the traditions associated with the area also feature these face coverings as props. Owing to the fact that many people are becoming more culturally aware, especially persons of African decent, the African mask has grown in popularity. For some persons they make excellent home and office accents.

This is why commercial interests have made the mask available to buyers. Consumers are able to browse online and find the mask of their choice. They may also visit physical stores for this purpose. Either way they are able to access the mask they need. Sometimes they can access handmade products coming out of the continent itself. Mask makers on Africa make the pieces and they are then shipped to consumers around the world.

A mask of this type can be made as a do it yourself project. Softened paper, glue and paint can be used by those who have little time and resources to make lighter versions. This mask creation process is great for persons who are either educators or performing arts groups who are operating on a limited budget.

About the Author: