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The ngil masks are tied to the association of ngil, who played judiciary and political roles among the Fang, assuring peace and hunting witches. The characteristics of the face do not express a composed serenity, but in the deformation of anatomic characteristics reveal its superhuman character. The accentuated vertical development of the mask is underlined by the long line of the nose. We have little information on the use of ngil masks. They obviously were a part of the paraphernalia of a male ngil society which used the masks in initiation ceremonies and to pursue and punish sorcerers and offenders. The supposedly gentle expression of the masks therefore stands in striking contrast to the extremely frightening character of the masked performers who only performed at night in the light of torches.
The creator of this mask has chosen to accentuate its facial features with rounded blue scars and straight lines along its nose. These lines contrast with the vibrant raffia, creating a very dynamic impact on the viewer.
This mask came back to us after 12 years in a private collection. Visit this mask on our museum site by clicking on this link below. It is in the middle of the fourth row.
Notice that our museum founder thought that tucking the raffia away made sense. We think it's time to let the raffia loose!