Amadou Hampâté Ba
Masks are to be found throughout Africa. As used by secret societies, fraternal organisations and in rites of passage for various age groups, and as possessors and distributors of knowledge, they are associated with all the important life stages and events.
Masks are regularly used in public performances to tell creation myths and to instruct in the secrets of initiation ceremonies. They represent and apply the laws that ensure balance and harmony in all things. They are the guardians of the rituals that make the earth fertile and protect mankind.
Many functions – social, political, religious and memorial – derive from this wisdom, which stems from the invisible powers, natural forces, spirits and ancestors that take over the masks so that they can penetrate the human world. This presence manifests itself in the many forms and combinations of energies – animal, vegetable, mineral or human – that overlay and surround them.
Through the fusion of colours, costumes, dances, gestures, words and rhythms, masks reproduce the pulse of the universe on a human scale for the societies that use them.
Matharan P. (Afiavimag)