Remember that each individual object of art is absolutely authentic and hand made. These are not the mass-produced, machine-made African carvings or replicas that abound in discount home decor stores everywhere across the nation. Rather, these are made by living, breathing, incredibly gifted artisans. Your purchase of African Art masks or any other art objects helps to sustain their way of life. As Africans ourselves, we at Namilegs.com appreciate this.
A variety of our African Art masks and carvings are made of ebony. You've probably heard of ebony, but did you know that it's in the same genus as the persimmon tree? That certainly brings this small tropical tree a bit closer to home. Widely distributed in warmer climates and in the tropics, ebony wood has been valued from ancient times. It is hard and dark and used extensively in cabinetmaking and for piano keys (hence the expression "ebony and ivory.") Ebony varies from deep black to dark red. It can be striped with black or with shades of brown; these varieties are called calamander wood or variegated ebony. Several factors help to determine the shade, including moisture, mineral content of the soil, and the age of the tree. In general, darker ebony is found at higher altitudes and from older trees. This is one of the reasons ebony is a scarce and costly wood, and the African Art carvings made from it are held in high regard.
•Marka mask: From the west coast of Africa in the Mali/Senegal region, this African mask is brightly painted or coated and then overlaid with metal foil for ornamentation. It is used for circumcision ceremonies, for the social advancement of circumcised men, and also in fishing and farming- related ceremonies.
•Ashante mask: A major ethnic group from Ghana, the Ashante are situated on the west coast of Africa. Their religion is a mixture of spiritual and supernatural powers. The queen African mask has copper, brass and beaded inlays and is made from sese wood. It assists the chief of the tribe in warding off evil spirits.
•Special beaded mask: The Pungwe and Bakoth tribes from the Gabon believed in reincarnation. They believed that the rounder and more radiant the mask, the more youthful and stronger it would make them in the next life.
•Spotted Kifwebe mask: The Songye of southwestern Congo are considered superior craftsmen. They focus much attention on ancestors to whom sacrifices are made to encourage individual and family harmony. The Kifwebe mask is created far from outside eyes, and then consecrated in a secret ceremony. Songye African masks are characterized by their bulging mouths and eyes. They are worn at ceremonies to honor a dead chief as well as to install a new one.
•White Kifwebe mask: This African mask features the same pronounced nose and large eyes, but with more subtle pastel shades. It is very popular, and is featured in death, welcoming and coronation rituals.
•Yoruba mask with copper: The Yoruba people of Nigeria believe that the spiritual realm has a profound influence on those still left on earth. The bearers of these African masks have a powerful influence, as they embody the spirits of the deceased. This interesting and popular mask is characterized by its notable copper overlays and threading.