Know the Different Materials Used for Tribal Masks

by Kath Dawson

The fascinating tribal masks are an indication of rich and diverse African tribal art. The masks of each tribal group have some unique characteristics which helpd in establishing its own identity. Each tribal community uses different type of material to make their masks.

Usually wood is the primary material used to make tribal masks. The people of Nkambe tribe always use a wooden mask called “Mabu”. Dogon people of west Africa too use simple wooden masks.

Apart from wood other materials are also used such as bark, resin and varnished antelope skin. The Chokwe tribe in Zaire always used resin, fibres and branches to craft their “Cikunza” masks for ceremonies. Certain tribes in South Africa, create masks of grass and then those masks are decorated with beads.

Some masks are also made of bamboo and raffia. These bamboo masks are mainly found in the Songye tribe.

The Fang tribe which originated in Gabon have very unusual masks. They used to carry "passport masks" made of metal wherever they travelled.

The Ashante tribal community of Ghana build masks of gold and bronze in remembrance of the kings who were killed during wars.

Tribal masks are quite often bought as souvenirs to be given to friends and family. If you are interested in decorating your home with fascinating tribal masks, you don’t need to travel all across to the African continent. All you have to do is check out our online tribal art gallery. We have a huge collection of tribal masks, original tribal art forms and other forms of African art.

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