African designs, £9.99
Gift of Mr and Mrs G. Wilks
AOA Ethno 1981.Af8.1
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Mask of vegetable fibre, hair and red abrus seeds
Angas people, mid-20th century
In Africa, 'masks' can be made of almost anything - plastic, paper, leaves, basketry or cloth - and the masquerade is a performance genre that appeals to all the senses since it includes music, dance and elaborate costumes that cover the entire body. Often masks are made to be seen in motion or merely glimpsed at night. This particular mask is probably from an Angas dance society and is made of poisonous abrus seeds.
A preoccupation with the sculptural forms of African masks has led to great interest in carved wooden pieces and the relative neglect of works such as this.