African Masks The Art of Creation
With western eyes we tend to view a tribal mask as a piece of fantastic sculpture. It is a decorative object to be displayed and enjoyed as a work of art. A piece of art that allows us to touch the world of the other, which we vaguely understand. Yet for the people who created it, it is a living object that possesses specific powers.
If you have ever visited a museum or gallery displaying ethnic or tribal art you may have asked yourself why are these shapes and forms used? What is this for? What kind of occasions called for these fabulous objects? Why and how was it made?
As I have studied mask I have realised that there are many answers to these questions. Each mask has its own story. Each mask is unique. Yet within that uniqueness there are commonalties. Interestingly the common aspects cross continental boundaries.
Why is a new mask needed?
In the aboriginal traditions the need for a new mask could vary greatly.
It could be
to honour an ancestor
to satisfy a request from the spirit world
for a new initiate
an old mask had served its usefulness
commissioned by a shaman for a specific purpose.
To mention a few.
How is the mask commissioned and created?
Once a need for a mask is recognised the commission can be made. A mask maker will have other roles in the practice of his carving and wood working construction skills. In some cultures all created objects were given a ritual and sacred element. The carves will know the traditional forms yet will also have artistic integrity. A new mask will be an expression of his skills, traditional knowledge and the link with the spirit world.
First a tree must be chosen. The forest has many trees. Which one is the true tree to be used? The diviner is asked for help. Using his knowledge of ancient traditions he enters the forest and begins to tune in to the wavelengths of the trees. He is guided towards the perfect tree. He knows this is the one.
The diviner introduces the tree to the carver. A ritual links the carver and the tree. A cut is made into the tree. The carver drinks from the sap. He absorbs some of the tree's spirit, man and the tree become one.
The first cuts for the mask are made into the living wood. The mask is sketched out, roughly hewn in a basic form. As the mask is revealed by the artist it is taken from the tree and finished in a closed workshop or secret place in the forest. Often a mask is carved in secret. To have the mask seen before it is complete breaks its magic, its power. Only when the mask is inhabited by the spirit, animal guide or ancestor is it whole and complete.
The mask has a life. It is not a dead object so long as it is in use. If the mask is not used it becomes less powerful as the spirit will leave as it is no longer being called upon for useful work.
An African elder visiting a London museum observed that the masks were dead. Here in this museum the masks had lost their power as they had lost the links to the spirit world. As exhibits the magic had gone from the mask the spirits returned to the spirit world.
The other aspect that is always worth remembering is that the mask is only one part of the of the whole effect. A costume is needed to support the mask, as is the music, the drumming, chants and songs, dances and of course the other participants. All combine to invoke the ceremony whether it be to celebrate coming of age, harvest or other important event.
Masks have great power to absorb our attention. Not all masks are created within a spiritual tradition yet the basic process of disguise takes us, at times into another mental dimension.
ŠIan Bracegirdle 2005 http://www.mask-and-more-masks.com
http://mask-and-more-masks.com You may use this article freely on condition that you include this copyright line and URL and that people who subsequently use this article follow the same conditions. Thank you for accepting these conditions.
Ian Bracegirdle 2004 1 Elderberry Close East Morton BD20 5WA UK 01535 692207 http://mask-and-more-masks.com
Teacher, Course Leader, Mask maker. Ian has studied and taught masks making and information for several years. He sees masks as a link back to our cultural origins.
Gold Jewelry -The Rest of The Story
Gold is one of the metals taken from the earth and is probably the first metal known to man. Its first use has been traced back to 3600 B. C. and was probably originally obtained in Egypt, as the ancient methods of obtaining gold in Egypt are illustrated in early rock carvings. It is said in the book of Genesis that Abraham, in the twentieth century B. C., when he went out of Egypt, was very rich not only in cattle but in gold and silver both in dust and ingots. In Exodus xxv, 29, we read that Moses was commanded by the Lord to make spoons of gold for the Tabernacle. In the writings of Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Pliny and others, gold is frequently mentioned.
Old Russian Symbolics on a White and Blue Porcelain
Russian porcelain is widely known and is often used as a traditional gift.The art of decorative painting on porcelain is handed down by craftsmen from generation to generation. Few of us, however, have asked ourselves what exactly is depicted on a Gzhel teapot or a Lomonosov porcelain cup.The blue color, glazed cobalt, has a long history.
What To Expect From A Feng Shui Consultation
If you are wishing to harmonize or balance your house or any other environment according to feng shui, the ideal way to do so is through a feng shui consultation. A feng shui consultation would provide you the right and proper guidance for you to successfully achieve your goal.
Babel vs. the PC
Imagine a time when mankind was young. Migration led many to the land of Shinar. It was during that time, that man came together and decided to build not only a city but a tower that would reach the heavens. Seeing the structure, the Lord was not very pleased. In fact, He knew what trouble this could lead to, so He confused mankind with different languages and scattered them across the face of the earth. Thus, is the story of Babel. (Babylon, the remains of an ancient city, is now located in Iraq.)
Those Dirty Mexicans--Oh, Really?
When my wife and I announced that we were moving to Mexico, one of my wife's relatives asked us,
His plays and adaptations have been performed in many countries and in many languages. Among the many adaptations Berkoff has created for the stage, directed and toured, are Kafka's Metamorphosis and The Trial, Agamemnon after Aeschylus, and Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. He has directed and toured productions of Shakespeare's Coriolanus also playing the title role, Richard II, Hamlet and Macbeth, as well as Oscar Wilde's Salome.
The History of Body Piercings - Ancient and Fascinating Around the World
Body piercings have seen a resurgence of interest in the last ten to twenty years and are becoming more and more a part of the mainstream Western culture. Take a look at any fashion or entertainment magazine and you'll see plenty of well-known celebrities with body piercings like navel rings or a labret. You might be surprised to find out that piercing is actually an ancient form of expression that most cultures have practiced at some time or other for thousands of years.
King Tuts Tomb was No Better - Found in America
Between 603 and 702 AD. a truly marvelous temple was built by the Mayan people to honour a non-Mayan, non-Indian man. The firsthand account of Alberto Ruz from 'Eyewitness to Discovery' follows in part, as it was printed in 'Illustrated London News':
My ancestry includes Colonel Miles (or Myles) Keough (or Keogh) through a relationship that apparently was not formalized with a lady who attended his grave, in a story made famous by many books on the matter. But it can only be true if this lady and her mother named Martin of the New York Governor's family, whose name is on the wedding certificate of my grandfather as a witness, kept the child a secret all her life. In fact one might even wonder if this child was the offspring of a relationship he had with white Indians like the Mandan. Geneticists can now show the Sioux are white blooded people through Haplogroup X markers as well. Miles' horse is immortalized in a song by Johnny Horton called 'Comanche the Brave Horse' and this horse is stuffed at the Manhattan Kansas museum of the regiment he also brought the tune Gary Owens to, after getting a Papal commendation his family later tore up. Miles was an expert horseman and like Custer he was held in high regard by the Indians. His horse protected him at the end of his life, and the Indians spared it because of its fine acts of bravery.
Shakespeares Art: Understanding King Lear
Students of Shakespeare have spent a very great deal of time debating the meanings of "Othello", "King Lear", and "Macbeth". The wealth of criticism of any one of his plays can be overwhelming to the casual student. I cite my own experience as a high school student struggling to write credible criticism of "King Lear" whilst juggling History, German, and General Studies reading and assignments. Students benefit from guidance concerning what it is best; at the very least to make best use of the time they have, opting perhaps to read the very best sources only.
Bewitching Jewelry -- Amulets, Talismans and Charms
Throughout the ages, men and women have used gemstones and crystals in personal ornaments and body decorations as bewitching jewelry. Wearing them as charms, talismans or amulets, they were believed to possess the power to ward off evil spirits (or attract benevolent ones), keep one safe from harm, or to find love. To this day, many people of all ages and from all walks of life believe in the magical power of certain gems and make bewitching jewelry part of their everyday attire.
Authenticity of Eskimo Inuit Art & Native Indian Art
Both Inuit Eskimo art and Native American art have gained international recognition as valuable art forms over the past few decades. However, the rising popularity of both Inuit Eskimo art and Native American art has resulted in the increased proliferation of imitations and mass-produced reproductions of original Native arts. Some obvious fakes are made in Asia from molds where the finished pieces are forms of plastic, resin or ceramic.
Mythology and Parables in Modern Communication - Part 1
Today there is a growing need to examine all our systems of thought and communication. We are witness to an information explosion. Never before has there been such a plethora of relevant and not so relevant information available on every subject imaginable. Most of us cannot even begin to fathom the depths of this apparent inexhaustible supply.
Egyptian Hanmde Galabeya (Galabia)
The Bedouin culture has a long history of beautiful costumes, textiles and Jewelry. The Bedouin costume has not changed in a thousand years, and the Bedouins today dresse in every particular as they did in the tenth century.
The Original Nobility: Patricians and Knights
By "nobility" I refer to that class in society which once had hereditary political, financial and social privileges guaranteed by law. By "original nobility" I follow the German (and now internationally accepted) definition and refer to those families who were ennobled (or generally recognised as nobles) before the year 1400. With "patricians" I refer to those families who from time immemorial were recorded as local and regional leaders, and usually as a base for their power had vast landed properties. With "knight" I refer to the warrior class that emerged and developed during 900 - 1300 AD.
10 Feng Shui Tips for a Better Life
Ever walked into a house that felt like home? Ever reminisced about the best year of your life, and wondered why everything came together for you? It could be Feng Shui.
Can You Hear My Secret Calling
A true love story
A Maiden Trip
I belong to a hamlet called 'Konthai' which is in South Tamil Nadu, India. Twenty years back I was there as an unemployed graduate hunting for a job. Among the competitive examination the one conducted by the Staff Selection Commission for the non-gazetted posts was popular as it was the only mass civilian recruitment by the Central Government. Even petty shops one can find the application form. So as a annual ritual, I used to appear for the examination but never bothered about the results.
Basic Chinese Pinyin Rules
* Make sure you set your browser encoding correctly to read Chinese words in this article. Chinese Simplified GB2312 is recommended. Please find detail instruction from this page: http://www.learn-chinese-language-online.com/read-chinese-online.html
The American Melting Pot Myth
Most myths have some element of truth in them. The 'melting pot' that media of all sorts (which includes our propaganda in law and education) tell us became America, is another of the half-truths or superficial observations which deserves a little study if we are to accept the deeper potential meaning in it. John Hope Franklin of Duke University is a respected Black scholar who says some powerful words after pointing out the kind of thing that media managers or manipulators galore have said about the open-minded American with no reason to bring prejudices to this new and exciting land of opportunity. I would point out that it was not so new and historians like himself have participated in a cover-up but let us see what this man has to say about the 'melting pot'.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|