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African masks:epitome of myth,mystery and magic - Research Paper Example

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Africa is the land of mystery, magic, myth and natural beauty. Even though the world has become a ‘modern’ place, Africa is still in touch with its old customs, rituals, festivals and culture. However, the African art form is the art of ‘Masks’…
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African masks:epitome of myth,mystery and magic
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Download file to see previous pages Africa is the land of mystery, magic, myth and natural beauty. Even though the world has become a ‘modern’ place, Africa is still in touch with its old customs, rituals, festivals and culture. However, the African art form that has attracted curiosity, appreciation and attention from every art lover and art critic in the world, is the art of ‘Masks’. ‘Mask’ is the form of art that is not only appreciated as a part of an artistic expression but also has a deep ritualistic and cultural meaning behind it and hence, it also epitomizes myth, mystery and magic of African culture. Masks Different culture and traditions in the world are identified through their art forms and expressions (Serageldin 1). Africa, by keeping its art alive, has not only enriched the lives of African people but also the lives of art lovers throughout the world (Serageldin 1). According to Daniel Bell (1996), it is by studying the art and the rituals of particular culture that one can understand the meaning and the essence of that culture (Serageldin 1). Hence, one can understand a great deal about the African culture by understanding the meaning and purpose hidden behind the art of masks. Mask is an essential element of African culture. For African people, masks are not just decorative art objects but are used in ceremonies and rituals with specific purpose (Finley 9). Masks have different purposes in different cultures. Tibetans use masks to protect themselves from demons, helpful spirits are represented in masks used in Native American tribe called Hopi, and Egyptians cover their mummies with the help of masks (Finley 10). However, in Africa, masks are not limited to dramas or artistic purpose but have a deep rooted subconscious meaning and purpose behind its use in rituals and traditional practices. The agricultural group settled in Western and Central Africa is the main producers of masks in Africa (Finley 21). However, masks are used all over Africa with different intentions and purposes. As human psyche, development of civilization and culture is expressed through art (Serageldin 2), one can understand the deep rooted religious meanings of African cultures by understanding the hidden purpose behind the use of masks. Masks can help in knowing the core of African culture and traditions. The Essence Of Masks Masks are used by many African ethnic groups to reveal the details of their culture, belief, religion and events. For example, Dan people of West Africa express the ancient beliefs of ruthless authority and forces of discord and disorder, through the different forms of masks (Thompson 159). Instead of using authority to maintain order in the society, traditional Dan people use artistic and philosophical means of the ‘cult of masks’ to maintain control in the society (Thompson 159). Dan people also use the cult of masks to protect the virtues of self-control and personal purity, which they highly value (Thompson 159). They believe that whenever spirits living in forest feel like having a materialistic form, they appear in artist’s dream and express their wish to be carved in masks (Thompson 159). Different masks are used for different purpose. For example, frightening masks are used to fight disorder and maintain peace through authority, beautiful masks are used to teach the initiation process, importance of women and tradition to children and adults, and cotton wig masks are used for entertainment purpose (Thompson 160). However, what really makes masks so effective and important in cultural rituals is its relation to myth. Masks are used in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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