Monday, April 30, 2012

My African Masks

Today, I had my African Arts Final project due, which I have created these two characters as my inspirational work from the Bwa masks of the Boni people. Their masks are quite interesting due to their simplified, geometric shapes to show the personality of the mask's spirit. Bwa masks are used for performances and ceremonial rituals for the ancestors. If you have the time, you should definitely try to read the background info about them.

These are some actual references. The brown stuff are hemp ropes. They get flung around when the performers do some crazy dancing. It's really cool!

Now here are my own mask creations:

The top one represents a Secretary bird spirit. If you don't know what Secretary birds are, they're African vultures with feathers that jut out of their heads just like the pens that stick of the back of the secretary's ears. HA, get it?? But since I made it into the secretary bird, I illustrated some of its movements as a predator. It has forceful swooping motions to portray its strength and a heavy leap as it mimics the bird's action when it's capturing its prey.

The bottom mask represents a "cloud spirit". At the top of its head shows what the character does such as covering the sun (hence the semi-circle), gives rain (the red dots), and rolls over the mountains (the jagged lines). Just like the real Bwa masks, each detail is a symbol and every single thing counts. Also, since it is a "cloud spirit" it makes wind and thunder, which I made the character show its actions by making strong, lunges as if it's blowing fiercely, and interacting with a musician with a drum to create loud booming thunder.

Overall, this project was fun to do, even it was last minute. Definitely learned new things about the African culture that I didn't know before and will try to incorporate them into my future work.

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