Of all the cultures around the world, one of the most enigmatic and interesting is undoubtedly the African one due to its complexity and diversity.

Each of the peoples of this enigmatic continent has its own history with an important oral tradition that persists today. And, one of the most used traditions, regardless of their quality, is the use of African masks, used as little more than a decorative element that is limited to functions that approach the symbolic, the significant.

Therefore, today we are going to know the meaning of African masks and what role they play in the culture of the ethnic groups of this continent:


Role and importance in African tribes

The value of these objects resides in the function they fulfilled, this is none other than transforming the individual to make him a nexus with the afterlife, with the world of the gods; in order to interact and change climatic phenomena, fertility, with births and death. The masks would catalyze this relationship so that the wearer stops being himself to play a superhuman role, allowing the incarnation of some deity or abstraction.

A peculiarity of these objects is that they used to be used only once, to later be destroyed (often by fire).

Shapes and patterns

The shapes in each decoration hide coded data, which usually indicate if the mask is a man or a woman, the social status of its wearer or the different powers with which it is provided, this means that an African mask can fulfill many missions ( have many meanings).

Each symbolism can vary, sometimes they can represent abstract values, or the image of some entity; this entity can be a spirit, a god or an ancestor.

What matters is that the ultimate goal of the masks is to transform its wearer into what it represents in some way, thus being able to make offerings or requests for turn in a more direct, visual and instructive way.


Manufacturing materials

They are often adorned and decorated with cowrie shells, colored beads, bones, porcupine spines, feathers, animal skins and vegetable fibers, in addition the main material with which they are made is wood, bronze, brass, copper, ivory. , terracotta and glazed ceramics, raffia and various textiles.

The favorite material is wood since it is believed that trees have a soul, they are often colored with natural dyes and pigments made from plants, insects or some tree bark, they are also sprinkled with sacrificial blood to increase their power spiritual.

Every detail is carved with sacred tools and these are passed down from generation to generation.



As we can see, African masks are part of a great legacy that allows not only the knowledge of the historical traditions of their peoples, but they are instruments of mediation in the face of the various conflicts and disagreements in existence.