From the collection of Cliff Pickover.
Photo copyright Cliff Pickover.
The Senufo are an artistic people
who live along the northernmost border
of the Ivory Coast
in western, sub-saharan Africa.
Through the ages, masks have varied in appearance and function.
Many masks are still associated with religious ceremonies
or are concerned with spirits of the dead, fertility rites, or
sickness. Other masks are used on festive occasions to portray
Masks representing harmful spirits were often used to keep a required balance of power. This type of mask was often associated with secret societies, especially in Africa, which has the greatest variety of masks on Earth!
Masks have also be used to discipline women, children, and criminals. For example, in Africa, a mother might paint a scary face on the bottom of a water gourd to make sure the child followed her directions. Along the Guinea coast of West Africa, many realistic masks represent ancestors; the masks symbolize sanction control when worn. The Dan and Ngere tribes of Liberia and Ivory Coast use ancestor masks as intermediaries for the transmission of petitions or offerings of respect to the gods.
The mask picture at the very bottom of this page is from the Masai Tribe in Kenya, Africa. They smear themselves with chalk from a sacred cliff to perform ritual dances. The stylized patterns proclaim bravery in killing lions or enemy warriors. This inspired the creation of carved, black, contour lines with white outlined eyes and lips. The spiral on the chin symbolizes life's journey to the center or self. The mask is made of terra cotta clay and glaze.
The Spirit's Image : The African Masking Tradition - Evolving Continuity by Esther A. Dagan, 1992, Galerie Amrad African Art Pubns.
Can You Spot the Leopard? : African Masks (Adventures in Art),
by Christine Stelzig, Reading level: Ages 4-8, 1997.
International Book Import Service, Inc.
While you are visiting, browse an image from my other interest -- my 110 gallon tropical fish tank. Note the odd formation of three red parrot fish towards the bottom. They appear to aligned as if part of some crystal.
Click this mask for "Mask Mania" source information. (Artist: Debbie Wilson.)
Return to Cliff Pickover's home page which includes computer art, educational puzzles, fractals, virtual caverns, JAVA/VRML, alien creatures, black hole artwork, and animations.
About the Mask Collector:
Clifford A. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is the author of over twenty highly-acclaimed books on such topics as computers and creativity, art, mathematics, black holes, human behavior and intelligence, time travel, alien life, and science fiction. Pickover is a prolific inventor with dozens of patents, is the associate editor for several journals, and puzzle contributor for magazines like Discover and Odyssey. The Los Angeles Times recently wrote, "Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art and thought." Wired magazine wrote, "Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both." Pickover's computer graphics have been featured on the cover of many popular magazines and on TV shows. His web site, www.pickover.com, has received over 400,000 visits.