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The Mask: A Study of Traditions By: Nick Bikos Jon-Paul Heil Will Colletti Brad Ritchie Anthony Mallett Josh Wizneiwski.

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Presentation on theme: "The Mask: A Study of Traditions By: Nick Bikos Jon-Paul Heil Will Colletti Brad Ritchie Anthony Mallett Josh Wizneiwski."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Mask: A Study of Traditions By: Nick Bikos Jon-Paul Heil Will Colletti Brad Ritchie Anthony Mallett Josh Wizneiwski

2 Introduction Masks have been used throughout history for a variety of purposes Masks have been used throughout history for a variety of purposes Their uses range from assisting in prayer, to increasing fertility, to conducting ceremonies Their uses range from assisting in prayer, to increasing fertility, to conducting ceremonies In African beliefs, one wearing a mask is imbued with its power and becomes a different entity In African beliefs, one wearing a mask is imbued with its power and becomes a different entity One example is the Ogwugwu in Things Fall Apart One example is the Ogwugwu in Things Fall Apart

3 What is a Mask? A mask is a covering for all or part of the face worn to conceal one’s identity A mask is a covering for all or part of the face worn to conceal one’s identity A facial covering worn for a ritual A facial covering worn for a ritual

4 The Role of the Mask in the Ceremony

5 Consecration Spiritual Significance in ancestral spirit Spiritual Significance in ancestral spirit Reflected in its design, style, and purpose in dance Reflected in its design, style, and purpose in dance Common understanding in every generation Common understanding in every generation The Mask goes through consecration to be worthy of the spirit it embraces The Mask goes through consecration to be worthy of the spirit it embraces Deities reflect role of the mask in nature and spirit Deities reflect role of the mask in nature and spirit Tribal Leader heads consecration with potions, herbs, and body parts Tribal Leader heads consecration with potions, herbs, and body parts The ceremony reflects on its intended purpose The ceremony reflects on its intended purpose Similar ceremony used to extract the power from the Mask Similar ceremony used to extract the power from the Mask

6 Rituals Masks used as a symbol of keeping moral code and honor among the clan Masks used as a symbol of keeping moral code and honor among the clan Ancestral spirits only more encourage this belief Ancestral spirits only more encourage this belief The spirits are in control of such judgement The spirits are in control of such judgement

7 Fertility & Funerary Rites and Initiation Fertility in humans, animals, and earthly harvest are reflect by the deities Fertility in humans, animals, and earthly harvest are reflect by the deities Ancestral spirits begged to accept the deceased into the spirit world Ancestral spirits begged to accept the deceased into the spirit world Host of different masks during the funeral and celebration to follow after to honor the deities Host of different masks during the funeral and celebration to follow after to honor the deities During initiation, masks worn by leaders and initiates to help demonstrate the responsibilities of adulthood, sexuality, traditions, law, etc. During initiation, masks worn by leaders and initiates to help demonstrate the responsibilities of adulthood, sexuality, traditions, law, etc. Masked dance performed in conclusion Masked dance performed in conclusion

8 Judgment and Protection Mask worn by secret societies in counsel and judgment Mask worn by secret societies in counsel and judgment Mask symbolizes wisdom and spiritual power Mask symbolizes wisdom and spiritual power Different masks worn pending on the crime or judgment Different masks worn pending on the crime or judgment Exorcism and warring instances call upon the Mask for to aid Exorcism and warring instances call upon the Mask for to aid

9 Masks and Things Fall Apart? Significant in tribal court Significant in tribal court “And when, as on that day, nine of the greatest masked spirits in the clan came out together it was a terrifying spectacle.” (Achebe, 75) Used to conceal identity Used to conceal identity Add: Add: Sense of mystery Air of divine importance

10 Masks’ Uses Localized Localized Use depends on location Use depends on location Different sects invent different uses Different sects invent different uses Majority involve spiritual affairs Majority involve spiritual affairs

11 Used in Death Significant in remembering passed women Significant in remembering passed women Masks symbolize pure beauty Masks symbolize pure beauty Finely sculpted and great care taken in detail Finely sculpted and great care taken in detail Depicts women’s features highlighted with tattoos Depicts women’s features highlighted with tattoos

12 Used in Ceremonies Southern Ekpe Southern Ekpe Two contrasting masks Maiden= beauty and peace Elephant= strength and aggression Similar masks to Northern Eastern Ibo Eastern Ibo Masquerades Colorful, exciting masks Harvest Celebration

13 Celebration New Yam Festival New Yam Festival “The Feast of the New Yam was held earth year before the harvest began, to honor the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the clan.” (Achebe, 32) “The Feast of the New Yam was held earth year before the harvest began, to honor the earth goddess and the ancestral spirits of the clan.” (Achebe, 32) Enormous amount of yams cooked Enormous amount of yams cooked Masks create festive mood Masks create festive mood Set tone of religious gratitude Set tone of religious gratitude

14 Masks Tell Stories Every mask has a specific spirit Every mask has a specific spirit Each spirit has a story Each spirit has a story The rituals that follow the masks give a story of the group of the spirits The rituals that follow the masks give a story of the group of the spirits Each mask teaches a lesson from the story Each mask teaches a lesson from the story The stories and masks are closely tied to their religious influence The stories and masks are closely tied to their religious influence

15 Stories of Their Religion secret societies for agricultural and funeral ceremonies secret societies for agricultural and funeral ceremonies incarnate unspecified spirits of the dead incarnate unspecified spirits of the dead

16 Masks’ Significance in the Tribe A certain cult or society in the clan A certain cult or society in the clan The titles one holds within the tribe The titles one holds within the tribe The class the person or group may be in The class the person or group may be in Where the tribe is located Where the tribe is located Which gods or goddesses the tribes worship Which gods or goddesses the tribes worship Form of entertainment Form of entertainment

17 Their Significance Baule society was characterized by extreme individualism, great tolerance, a deep aversion toward rigid political structures, and a lack of age classes, initiation, circumcision, priests, and secret societies Baule society was characterized by extreme individualism, great tolerance, a deep aversion toward rigid political structures, and a lack of age classes, initiation, circumcision, priests, and secret societies The ram is a heavenly demon or a spirit of agriculture The ram is a heavenly demon or a spirit of agriculture

18 Their Titles masks, of wood or fabric, are employed in a variety of dramas: social satires, sacred rituals (for ancestors and invocation of the gods), initiation, burials, and public festivals The higher ranking men of the society wore these masks masks, of wood or fabric, are employed in a variety of dramas: social satires, sacred rituals (for ancestors and invocation of the gods), initiation, burials, and public festivals The higher ranking men of the society wore these masks

19 Their Role in Worship Diversity plays a vital role in their worship and ceremonies Diversity plays a vital role in their worship and ceremonies Influences came from a variety of neighboring cultures Influences came from a variety of neighboring cultures By this diversity, masks are eclectic as well By this diversity, masks are eclectic as well

20 Their Role in Worship Stresses process instead of product Stresses process instead of product Very passionate about motion Very passionate about motion Masks can be used to repel the opposite of what they symbolize Masks can be used to repel the opposite of what they symbolize Beauty mask: it is used against a beast mask during worship so peace and unity can be maintained in their tribe Beauty mask: it is used against a beast mask during worship so peace and unity can be maintained in their tribe

21 Their Role in Worship These masks are usually used in a festival called “The Fame of Maidens” These masks are usually used in a festival called “The Fame of Maidens” Masks also complement the ritual in which they both can liven up the ritual; for people it can be entertaining Masks also complement the ritual in which they both can liven up the ritual; for people it can be entertaining

22 Their Role in Worship Masks were more importantly uses in hiding the identity of that person wearing the mask Masks were more importantly uses in hiding the identity of that person wearing the mask Masks could be used to bestow fear on women for any occasion to women masks were dangerous) Masks could be used to bestow fear on women for any occasion to women masks were dangerous) They were significant in worship because they were the link between the present world and the afterworld They were significant in worship because they were the link between the present world and the afterworld

23 Their Role in Worship Masks have been very vital in tribe worshipping, ceremonies, funerals, and etc. Masks have been very vital in tribe worshipping, ceremonies, funerals, and etc. They can be worn for a variety of reasons They can be worn for a variety of reasons Uses can be seen in the book, “Things Fall Apart” Uses can be seen in the book, “Things Fall Apart”

24 How does this all connect to Things Fall Apart?

25 Connections Masks were worn by the egwugwu Masks were worn by the egwugwu The egwugwu were masqueraders who impersonated one of the ancestral spirits of the village (Achebe, 172). The egwugwu were masqueraders who impersonated one of the ancestral spirits of the village (Achebe, 172). When these masked spirits came out, all the women and children were terrified When these masked spirits came out, all the women and children were terrified

26 Connections The masks covered up the egwugwu’s true identity The masks covered up the egwugwu’s true identity When the masks were worn, they were seen as different people When the masks were worn, they were seen as different people “Okonkwo’s wives…might have noticed that the second egwugwu had the springy walk of Okonkwo…But if they thought these things they kept them within themselves” (Achebe, 76). “Okonkwo’s wives…might have noticed that the second egwugwu had the springy walk of Okonkwo…But if they thought these things they kept them within themselves” (Achebe, 76).

27 Connections People could not openly say that someone that wore a mask reminded them of someone they knew People could not openly say that someone that wore a mask reminded them of someone they knew When the mask was worn, the “men” were now spirits When the mask was worn, the “men” were now spirits There were nine spirits that represented the nine tribes There were nine spirits that represented the nine tribes

28 Connections These nine spirits decided on issues that came up in the tribe These nine spirits decided on issues that came up in the tribe They were like a court that settled cases They were like a court that settled cases Wearing a mask implied a high position in the tribe Wearing a mask implied a high position in the tribe

29 Conclusion The purpose and use of masks is a complex and integral part of African tribal life The purpose and use of masks is a complex and integral part of African tribal life Thousands of masks exist that were used today for ceremonies and rituals Thousands of masks exist that were used today for ceremonies and rituals Times have changed but the tradition of using masks to honor and worship ancestors and deities lives on Times have changed but the tradition of using masks to honor and worship ancestors and deities lives on

30 Bibliography Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Boston: McDougal Littell, Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Boston: McDougal Littell, “Igbo- Ibo Mask History.” Rebirth African Art History Rebirth. 30 Oct “Igbo- Ibo Mask History.” Rebirth African Art History Rebirth. 30 Oct “Igbo Maiden Masks.” Igbo Mask - Agbogho Mmwo. 30 Oct “Igbo Maiden Masks.” Igbo Mask - Agbogho Mmwo. 30 Oct “Masks.” African Art Collection. 30 Oct “Masks.” African Art Collection. 30 Oct 2006.

31 Bibliography (cont.) “Masks.” Dictionary.com Lexico Publishing Group. 30 Oct “Masks.” Dictionary.com Lexico Publishing Group. 30 Oct “Masks." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Oct “Masks." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Oct “The Igbo People.” Ethnographica. 30 Oct “The Igbo People.” Ethnographica. 30 Oct “Small Igbo Mask.” African Masks from Around the World. 30 Oct “Small Igbo Mask.” African Masks from Around the World. 30 Oct 2006.


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