One of the things people love about African culture is the beauty of its cultural art.
From authentic African sculptures from Nigeria , masks, clothing, spears and shields ,the African continent is full of wonderful things to look at.
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People are often struck by the beauty of this art but do not know its story or the story behind what people are actually expressing. For example, take masks.
African masks are essentially a part of the rituals and ceremonies in Africa, particularly the regions of West Africa and sub-Saharan Africans.
People have been using this type of art for centuries, and as specific expressions of each piece of art vary from one tribe to another tribe, there tend to be some common features in the masks of most African cultures.
These common features center around the fact that they are used in ritual dances and religious events in order to attribute a special status or significance for users as something that sets them apart from all other attendees.
Many times the art of mask making is a closely guarded family tradition, with parents teaching their children how to make them, as well as the symbolic meaning conveyed by each type of mask. Thus, the traditions of the elders of the tribe continue from generation to generation.
The purpose of a ceremonial mask is set apart from the individual wearing the masks. It is believed among most African cultures that a person who carries only a ritual mask loses his human identity and acquires the personality or spirit of the mask.