African masks are one of the most widely recognised African art forms. They have a great deal of symbolism, and are used in numerous ceremonies all across Africa. Every nation and tribe makes their masks a little differently, so they are all unique to the area where they are made. You can find African masks hanging in many museums and on sale in ethnic markets.
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Many African masks depict animals, because they are believed to link tribesmen with the land and nature around them. Some common animals that are carved into masks are the hawk, crocodile and buffalo.
African masks are used in a number of different ceremonies. Most of these are funerals, ceremonies celebrating agriculture and initiation ceremonies for boys who are transitioning into men.
Masks are usually made with the ancestry of a tribe in mind. They often have zigzagging lines carved into them, which represent the ups and downs of the tribe and tells a story of their past.
African masks can be made from a number of different materials. These include various types of wood, metal and other organic materials that are often found in Africa.
African masks are not only worn during ceremonies. Special masks that exhibit anger and aggressiveness are worn by tribes during times of war.