Ivorian wood mask, 'Female Baule Fertility Mask'
Salihu Ibrahim faithfully replicates the fertility mask of the Baule people of Ivory Coast. He carves the sese wood mask by hand with female features including a comb in her hair and inverted triangles on the cheeks. The mask is worn during special festivities for a good harvest.
Ivorian wood mask, 'Baule Prince'
This mask may only be worn by the Baule prince of Ivory Coast during harvest celebrations. Salihu Ibrahim honors legendary traditions with a hand-carved sese wood mask.
Congolese wood mask, 'Protector'
Narrow eyes are vigilant, for this mask is thought to ward off threats and disasters. Representative of the Congo's Songye people, it is named Kif Webe and is believed to possess healing powers. The stripes represent the earth and the underworld, from where the spirits come. Carved of sese wood and adorned with white clay, this imposing mask is the creation of Salihu Ibrahim.
Nigerian mask, 'King Olu Badan'
Legendary tales of regal eccentricities inspire George Asante to carve this mask in honor of Olu Badan. The Nigerian king is said to have changed his physical appearance and character to be different from the rest. He even changed his way of life. Asante adorns the sese wood mask with ornate brass plates and hand-painted motifs.
Burkina Faso wood mask, 'Bobo Chieftain'
Carved by hand with stately symmetry, this mask is representative of Bobo art. Such masks are worn during funeral rites for prominent chiefs and leaders. Repouss� in brass and aluminum adorns the handsome features in a beautiful piece by Kwaku Ofosuhene Apenteng. The Bobos escaped Moshie subjugation and settled around Bobo Dioulasso, west of Burkina Faso. They are renowned for their mask traditions.
Wood mask, 'New Classic'
Master carver Daniel Asante expands on Ghana's mask traditions for the exclusive design of this mask. It is carved of tweneboa wood featuring a bird looking downwards upon the face. Asante paints his original creation by hand and decorates it with cotton and rayon threads that appear like earrings.
Ivorian wood mask, 'Baule Queen'
This mask may only be worn by the Baule queen of Ivory Coast. It features a regal face in the center surrounded by four horns to symbolize her status. Salihu Ibrahim honors legendary traditions with a hand-carved sese wood mask.
Senegalese wood mask, 'Never Be Cruel'
Representing love, greatness and success, this handsome mask is carved by hand. Raindrop patterns adorn the wide forehead while intricate aluminum repouss� adds texture to the cheeks. Peter Wolfgang Nkrumah presents an image from Senegal's Kele people. The mask reminds hunters to never be cruel to fellow human beings.
Senegalese wood mask, 'Kele Initiation'
An ornate headdress as tall as the face crowns an opulent mask. Symmetrical features taper to a pointed beard, and incised motifs complement applications of brass repouss�. By Peter Wolfgang Nkrumah, this mask is used to initiate the leader of a secret society among Senegal's Kele people.
Wood mask, 'Bateke Beauty'
Surrounded by braids of color, a flat visage reveals intricate geometric shapes. The abstract motifs cover the entire sese wood surface. Smiling serenely, this mask by Victor Yao Delanyo represents the Teke, or Bateke tribe who live along the Congo River.
Wood mask, 'Bwa Bush Spirits'
Salihu Ibrahim carves a beautiful mask filled with meaning known only to initiates in the Bwa tribe of Burkina Faso. The checkerboard represents the separation of good and evil, wise from stupid, and male from female. At the top, a large white crescent denotes the moon of the masks that shines during the seasons when the masks perform. Ibrahim names the piece Nwantantay, or "Bush Spirits." Nwantantay have no natural shape and must be portrayed in abstract geometric form. The spirits embodied in the masks bless the families that own the mask and dance with it in public.
Wood mask, 'Bobo Ram'
A symbol of purity, the ram boasts long horns that curl majestically about its head. Evans Doe Martey creates a handsome mask from the Bobo people of Burkina Faso. Spiritual purity plays a vital role in African traditions.
Wood mask, 'Spirit of the Bush'
Faceless and featuring horns in the shape of the sun, this checkered mask replicates the artistry of the Bondoukou people from the Ivory Coast. The mask represents the spirit of the bush and it's worn during ceremonial dances. Salihu Ibrahim hand-carves a fascinating sese wood piece and paints it with acrylics.
Wood mask, 'Secret Guro Bird'
Hand-carved features glow with subtle color, while a bird perches atop the head of an enigmatic figure. Victor Yao Delanyo sculpts a mask in the style of the Guro tribe from the Ivory Coast. "I portray a Guro mask," Delanyo says. "It is used by secret societies during their ceremonies." Carved of seasoned sese wood, the piece is embellished with dark tan polish and painted by hand.
Wood mask, 'The Hunter'
Bold red features contrast vividly with concentric rings of black and white. This dramatic zebra mask is awarded to great hunters in the Dan culture, where it is considered a symbol of their prowess and agility. Artisans at Mac Raymonds Wood Works carve the mask from sese wood, and paint the details by hand.
Wood mask, 'Guiding Spirit'
Ghost-like, this piece replicates the white masks of the Ogooue, of the Kota and Mukudji tribes. Known as punu in Gabonese, the mask incarnates the spirits of ancestors who return to visit the living and assist them in the hereafter. Salihu Ibrahim hand-carves a fascinating sese wood piece that is traditionally worn during special village celebrations.
Wood mask 'The Virtue of Knowledge'
This mask of striking features represents a protective spirit that has taken an animal form. The mask originates from the beliefs and traditions of the Nuna people from Burkina Faso and represents the gift of knowledge in the face of ignorance. Evans Doe Martey carves a faithful sese wood replica of the mask and adorns it with embossed brass plates.
Wood mask, 'Baoule Spirit Dance'
Seemingly surprised, a watchful personage bares its teeth. Horns crown the circular mask, and intricate geometric patterns surround it. Depicted in hand-carved sese wood, a minor spirit masks young men dancers from the Baoule tribe of the Ivory Coast. Victor Yao Delanyo recreates a design used in the Goli spirit dance, as men of junior rank dance before their seniors.
Wood mask, 'Fang Tribe Harvest'
Smooth and round, a disk-like face seems to cry out or sing. Circular eyes open to narrow slits, defined by the rich hues of Africa's fertile soil. Finished with a lavish fringe of raffia, this mask by Victor Yao Delanyo is used during harvest time by Fang people of Gabon.
Wood mask, 'Enforcer of the Law'
Crowned by a bird, white features in a heart-shaped face suggest a relationship with the dead. Victor Yao Delanyo represents an adult male from Ekpo, the principal mask society of Nigeria's Ibibio tribe. Black circles around the eyes, nostrils and lips lend a menacing effect to the mask, used to ensure social order.
Wood mask, 'Festival'
Intricately illuminated in colorful beadwork, this extraordinary mask showcases Victor Yao Delanyo's design vision. He sculpts the piece from sese wood and achieves the deep, rich color with mansion polish. Named "Festival," the work is typical of pieces exhibited in Nigeria's annual "Festac" � Festival of Arts and Crafts.