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The Punu People

"The Punu reside on the left bank of the Upper Ngoume River and belong to a group of tribes known as Shira which were originally part of the Luango kingdom of Angola with the Eshira, the Lumbo, the Vili, the Galoa and the Vungu people, the Punu migrated northwards during the 18th century and settled where they are now."
"They live in independent villages divided into clans and families and social cohesion is ensured by a society known as Moukouji, whose primary role is to subjugate harmful forest spirits. During ceremonies related to the society, small statues and masks appear which are often covered in white pigments alluding to their anti-witchcraft functions.”
Angola, Central Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and
Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
 

The Mambila People

“The 25,000 Mambila people produced a considerable number of masks and figures that are characterised by a heart-shaped face; red and white pigments were often applied later.”
“Dances celebrating the end of the planting seasons are led by a tribesman wearing a helmet mask."
Cameroon, Central Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and
Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
 


The Kwele People

“The Kwele tribe live on the northern frontier of the Republic of Congo, and have produced a famous type of mask called Ekuk. It displays a flat surface and often has a whitened heart-shaped face, a triangular nose and coffee bean eyes. These masks were hung in their houses and rarely worn during dances related to the initiation ceremonies of the Bwete cult. Their function was to ‘warm up’ the village atmosphere in order to activate the beneficial
forces resident in the Bwete box.”
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
 

The Songye People

“During the 16th century, the Songye migrated from the Shaba area, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), and settled on the left bank of the Lualaba River, on a savannah and forest-covered plateau."
"Divided into numerous sub-groups, the 150,000 Songye people are governed by a central chief, the Yakitenge, whose role demands that he obey special restrictive laws such as not showing grief, not drinking in public and not shaking hands with men. In addition, local rulers, the Sultani Ya Muti, distribute plots of land to their villagers and an influential secret society, Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe, counterbalances their power. Unlike their neighbors, the Luba, the Songye tribe is a patriarchal society in which agriculture is central to the economy.”
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and
Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
 

Chokwe People

"The Chokwe, with an estimated population of 1.3 million people, inhabit areas in Angola, DRC and Zambia. They are known by many names throughout the world, upwards of 30 different variations, all deriving from the name in which they call themselves. Artwork created by the Chokwe ties back in to their religious beliefs. Many sculptures are in image of various ancestors, most prominent being Chibinda Ilunga, shown with bent legs and a formidable stature. Chairs and other utility objects often portray images of the royal lineage and familial predecessors."
Angola, Central Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.

 

The Dogon People

The Dogon have become popularized for their ancient tales on human origins and extraterrestrial contact. According to legend, a race of beings called Nommo, came from the star system Sirius, thousands of years ago.  The beings are said to have come to Earth and provided humans with knowledge.  They gave the Dogon information about their solar system as well as our own.
Dogon religion is based on oral traditions, which may vary slightly depending on which Dogon clan is being consulted. The most widespread account states that the Nommo are the creation gods, who came from the sky in space ships, and will return one day. Ancestor worship and cult initiation plays a large part of their belief system. There are three main cults among the Dogon, all of which incorporate mask making.
Mali, Western Africa

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Yoruba People

"The Yoruba are the largest cultural group on the African continent, with nearly 40 million people. The word ‘Yoruba’ describes both the language and a tribe
living across Nigeria and the Popular Republic of Benin, in an area of forest and savannah. Yoruba people are prolific artists and craftsmen. Most of the Yoruba artifacts date from between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century and can often be attributed to a specific carver by name – an exception in African art."

"Most Yoruba art has a meaning or purpose behind it. Some items are carved for worship or for celebration, sometimes as a commemoration of Yoruba culture. Many carvers come from a long familial lineage of artists and spend many years studying new and ancient techniques."
Nigeria, Western Africa

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Source: Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and
Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
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