Masquerades in African society: gender, power, and identity

TitleMasquerades in African society: gender, power, and identity
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsW. E. A.van Beek, and H.M. Leyten
Secondary TitleWestern Africa series
Date Published2023
PublisherJames Curry
Place PublishedWoodbridge, Suffolk
Publication Languageeng
ISSN Number9781847013439
KeywordsAfrica, masks, masquerades, rituals

What is the meaning of masks and masquerades in African traditions and how can we understand their role in rituals and performances? Why do we find masks in some African regions and not in others, and what does this 'mask habitat' say about the general dynamics of masquerades in Africa? Though masks are among the most famous art icons of Africa, exploration of their uses and the way in which they articulate social characteristics of African societies has been underexamined. This book takes an anthropological perspective on the phenomenon of masquerades on the African continent to show how mask rituals are an integral part of African indigenous religions and societies, and are informed by and linked to specific types of social and ecological conditions. Having established the commonalities of mask rituals and a mask typology, the authors look at the varieties of mask performances and the types of rituals in which masks function in rites of passage and in rituals of gender, power, and identity. The following chapters focus on different types of rituals featuring masks, from initiation and death ceremonies to secrecy, kingship, law and war. With its broad examination of the use of masks on the continent, from Angola to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, this well illustrated book will stand as an authoritative study of the use of masks, of interest not only to those in African Studies but to anthropologists and ethnographers worldwide.


Citation Key12712