African Masquerades

Masks played an essential role in the African culture.  During many of their initiations, rituals, ceremonies or funerals masks were worn to respect and honor the peoples.  Each masks represents something different from fertility, adulthood, ancestry, or for fighting off demons.  Many Africans believed spirits lived alongside them and played a roll in their success of growing crops and the protection of their children.  Instead of making the spirits mad they honored them with dances and rituals while wearing these creative masks.  Most masks are worn by the men and not allowed to be worn by women, although some masks are for female ritual and display female characteristics the males still performed in these masks.  Some masks were replications of family members who have deceased and these were used in ceremonies honoring their ancestors.  

This figure is of a women who has given birth. Mossi people believe the women to be most beautiful when they are giving birth and this mask is worn during the celebration of the birth
Twins are highly symbolic in the African cultures and this piece is of twins in Yoruba. This mask is the celebration of beauty that has been blessed on this woman for having sacred twins.