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Africa Project

Photos from the seventh grade visit to the Musée des Arts Africains in Paris. Our visit has let us see some examples of the traditions which live in the African continent. All of these photos show masks which come from Burkina Faso. When we look at an African mask, it is necessary to remember that for the people who make and wear these sculptures, they are not art, as our guide told us.

These masks have magical powers

These masks have magical powers for those who believe, they are sacred. Believers who disrespect these masks risk terrible consequences. However, as long as they remain behind the glass in a museum they are safe: here in Paris they become works of art.

This fierce looking mask covered the entire head.

This second example represents an Antelope. It is a mask worn on the top of the head, held on by a strap under the chin like a hat. It is made of wood, and so it is quite heavy! For people who believe in the Antelope mask, it means health, youth and beauty.

This mask represents an Antelope.

A facial mask.

Our third example is a facial mask. Here we can see the stylised lines of the mask. Instead of making an exact copy of a face, the sculptor has taken the important characteristics of the idea, and has then employed these characteristics to communicate the idea.

Practice: See if you can make a mask which means something important for you. Think of the necessary characteristics, exclude all things which are unnecessary, and make your mask. A real mask is often made of wood, but for us paper is easier!

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