Social life rites

Saturday 29 November 2008 by Florence

Certain times of the African social life are surrounded by ceremonies and dances involving several masks. Their action makes stronger the links of the community but also allows to maintain authority, social control and to discourage bad behaviours.

Masks appear on non religious ceremonies due to exceptional circumstances as in the Baule tribe from Ivory Coast who use some masks during receptions of foreign important people. The Dan from the same country have go gé masks called ‘‘royal masks’’ used for the announcement of the death of an important chief.

Some other masks like the running masks gunye ge of the Dan of the north are used for competition and allow the young’s of different villages to measure their courage and their value. The Bozo from Mali theatre of marionettes have too an important function for social cohesion.

Other masks have a judiciary function. The Tchokwe from Angola use dance masks with male characteristics (cihongo). These masks symbolize richness and power. The one who carry the mask is responsible of the collect of the tax given to the chief which gives him a big power. The Guere from Ivory Coast masks have several pairs of horns and can act as ‘‘detective masks’’ designated a guilty person.


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