La Charles James's carving place presents the first video in a series about wood mask carving. He is certainly an inspiration to all carvers and mask makers out there. This first lesson teaches us the basics of starting your carving, with details and steps to start making your own mask. You can carve masks for fun, for selling (like most african mask carvers do) for your own mask collection or for giving gifts. Many people like to buy hand carved wood masks. If you don't know a lot about mask collecting you can read my Beginners Guide to Mask Collection . I hope you enjoy this video, stay tuned for the rest of the series.
I decided to post a few videos on Mask Carving out of wood. It is a very interesting and age old art and a very rewarding experience if you can see your own masterpiece coming to life. Masks are used for so many things, decorative, storytelling, warding off of evil spirits, sacred ritualsetc. So if you are interested in masks and the carving thereof, I hope you will enjoy this series of videos on carving wooden masks and making. This is the first video of the series and it will give you an introduction to mask making. It will tell you a bit a bout different kinds of masks and what mask carving is all about.
Masks Rock Africa's Cradle of Voodoo, Explorer Says
Deep within the soul of Africa there can be heard a distant sound, the pulse of the rhythmic beat of dancing drums. Scattered throughout tiny villages during festival season, the dancing masks of West Africa can be heard and seen.
I have had a long fascination with mask dancing around the world, especially in the West African countries of Benin and Togo. Since the mid-1990s, I have journeyed here to witness the rituals of voodoo and the powerful Gelede and Egungun mask dances of the Yoruba people. Now I have returned as a National Geographic Society photographer on a cultural expedition with my friend and associate Wade Davis, a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. We are in search of the roots of voodoo.
We journey to West Africa, during the height of the spiritual season of celebration, renewal, and the transition into the Voodoo New Year in September. The Gelede mask dance is by far the happier and more entertaining of the numerous mask dances. Its primary goal is to both entertain and bridge the worlds of the dead and the living, considered the sacred and the profane.
The mask dance in Africa is charged with the responsibility of keeping the balance of life between humans and the gods. The mask becomes the visual and living manifestation of the gods, both good and evil.
Balance of Power The Gelede mask acts out daily life, and more often than not, the conflicts and misdeeds of the mortal man. All the events of the past year—theft, love affairs, corruption, abuse of officials—are brought to light. The head performer, "Efe," a female character, acts out her performance with sarcastic remarks and reprimands that serve to lighten intricate village tensions. A central part of the Gelede mask dances are the performances of the women spirits, especially the head female Gelede spirit, Iya Lase. This female mask performs to balance the power of the witches always found throughout African tribal society.
As Benin villagers gather once a year for their annual Gelede mask dance, they will once again be woven into the deep and long tapestry of responsibilities of again becoming an honorable citizen—to the family, the village, the community, and the spirits that dwell at the edge of the forest.
Cult of the Dead Where the Gelede masks embrace the rituals of daily life, the great masks of the Egungun people speak of the cult of the dead.
When members of a Benin village experience a great Egungun mask dance, they are in the presence of their dead ancestors. As drums beat into the heat of the African night, the past and the present merge and the death masks of the Egungun swirl. There is both fear and hope that the ritual will give way to optimism for the future. The purpose of the Egungun dance, and the performance of the masks in attendance, is to cleanse and reconcile the community and liberate it from burden. A visit by the dancing dead ancestors demands a sense of responsibility to the living to behave themselves on a daily basis.
Egungun dance ceremonies also perform the important task of exposing misconduct within the village and avenging it. Punishment is swift.
If touched by the mask, a person reveals to the village they are guilty. They are then banished to a symbolic death within the living world. However, with an offering of money or alcohol to the Egungun mask, the person can save themselves from metaphorical death and shame.
The mask dances are always performed by the initiated men of every village that make up the secret societies who have gone through an intricate series of rituals to be accepted into the group. Once accepted into these secret societies, the men will be able to know the power of the masks and will be well versed in the stories concerning the myths, prayers, chants, and magical practices to each community. These men will be qualified to play the sacred ceremonial musical instruments that allow the mask dancers to fall into trance and become the conduit for the spirits to present in the living world. Even female characters are played by the men.
With the passing of the festival season that marks the end of sacred dances for another year, the masks have performed their task of keeping the forces of life and death in balance. The masks again have demanded their toll, namely the responsibility that every human appease the forces of the spirit world beyond their control and be well behaved for the next year.
The Gelede and Egungun dances of the Yoruba are the visible affirmation of the elusive world of the African spiritual world and of the powerful magic that lies within Africa's modern psyche.
You can also start your own voodoo mask collection. Browse through Oraclemask's Online Mask Store
Tiki Masks are carved wooden masks that represent deities or gods from the Hawaiian and Polynesian Culture. They are used as home decor and they also serve various purposes such as warding off evil spirits and increasing the owners fertility! They hold such high significance in the Polynesian culture that they, along with other Tiki sculptures, have become defining symbols of the Tiki culture.
Many of the Tiki Masks are designed based on the four main gods. Kane is the god of sunlight, and natural life; Ku is the god of war; Lono is the god of peace, winds, rain, sports and fertility; Kanaloa is the god of the ocean. Each Tiki God holds a different meaning.
Tiki Masks are the perfect conversation pieces to add to any modern home. They are exquisite pieces that have intricate details, making them real works of art. They can also be used to add to the authentic feel of Luaus and other feasts. Tiki Masks are also used as decorative pieces in Hawaiian restaurants and Tiki Bars. Tiki Masks can be used both indoors and outdoors and they can mix beautifully even with modern art pieces. And it's not that difficult to learn more about mask collecting.
Tiki Masks come in various sizes from 8 inches to over 5 feet tall. The complexity and sophistication of the designs do not depend on the size of the Tiki Masks. There are relatively smaller masks that contain magnificent details while there are big masks that feature simple designs. Hand-carved wooden Tiki sculptures are now evaluated and regarded on the same level as other forms of art and sculpture, with the benefit to their owners of being rich with meaning. There is no questioning the amount of effort put into creating wonderful Tiki statues and Tiki Masks. Authentic Tiki Masks have well thought designs and are carved by expert Tiki artists who are able to combine meaning, function and aesthetic value. Each element in the sculpture adds meaning and value to the piece of art.
Authentic Tiki Masks are carved from hardwoods by expert craftsmen and then finished off with oil, wax or polish. There are also some Tiki Masks that feature color, but the most common design is the traditional stained hard wood sculpture. Because of the materials used and process that the Tiki Masks undergo during their creation, they can last a lifetime.
If you are planning on organizing a Luau or creating a permanent Tiki lounge in your home then it's easy to order authentic Tiki sculptures online to match the tiki theme and the atmosphere you are creating for the party or the lounge. There are so many Tiki Masks to choose from. When choosing a Tiki Mask, choose one that will beautifully match your space and also consider the meanings of the masks so you can get one that will hold significance in your life.
Check out great specials on our Amazon guaranteed online Tiki Mask shop, and start your Tiki collection now.
I am 29 years old. I love many things like the outdoors, scuba diving, geocaching, exercising, dining out, socializing, partying, reading, computers, games, watching videos, producing videos and many other things. I love watching funny videos (Who doesn't). I also like arts and crafts and enjoy collecting masks from all the different parts of the world while I am traveling.