September 2021

Look Deeper, Africa Unmasked

Look deeper into an African mask and there is a spirit calling as far back as the Stone Age. A tribal mask for African people has played a vital role in conveying emotions of mystery, power, healing, and exhortations. Their striking displays have been woven into the cultural fabric in the form of ceremonies, ritual, and celebrations. They’re emblematic of particular traditions of regions and their appearance is designed, whether plain or elaborate, to make a striking statement.

MARKA MASK | MALI

Every face tells a story.

When it comes to masking ceremonies, the beliefs are deep and complex. For instance, it is believed that when a man puts on a mask he is transformed into a medium. He then has the power to communicate with spirits and ancestors of his community. This is a method of controlling good and evil in the community through major life events like war, harvesting, fertility, marriage and burials.

The skill of the mask maker.

In every mask, there lies a true spirit. With its function as an object to make contact with numerous spirit powers, its maker must have the inherit technical skill and spiritual knowledge to bring them to fruition. Local artisans have the extraordinary ability to sculpt faces in the shape of beautifully symmetrical human or animal forms in pottery, textiles, aluminium copper, or bronze. Embellishment can come in the form of clays, horn, ivory, stone, or feathers.

BAULE MASKS | IVORY COAST

The power of the mask.

Once put on, the entrancement can begin. The wearer can go into a deep trance driven by music in the form of primal drums, song, dance, and prayer which according to folklore sets in motion a spiritual connection between the dancer, spirits and ancestors.

At Orient House our range of African masks hold a similar fascination. All traditional, all hand made from central and west coast African countries like Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Liberia and Niger.

To experience our authentic collection, just drop into Orient House. You’ll see the real face of Africa.