Two Masks From French Equatorial Africa

By: H. U. Hall

Originally Published in 1927

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THE masks figured here belong to a clearly defined West African type of which only a few examples are to be found in museums or in private collections. They were acquired recently by the UNIVERSITY MUSEUM, having formerly been included in a well-known private collection, now dispersed, in New York.

Of the seven other masks of this type known to me six are in European museums, and the seventh in the collection of the Barnes Foundation at Merton, Pennsylvania. In most of these cases the data concerning their places of origin are not very precise. Five of the masks appear in L. Frobenius’s volume, Die Masken and Geheim-bunde Afrikas,1 as fig. 43, pl. II, fig. 39, pl. IV, and figs. 52, 53, and 54, pl. VI. More recently, Frobenius has published another, fig. 150 in Das unbekannte Afrika,2 and the Barnes Foundation example appears as fig. 7 in Primitive Negro Sculpture, by Paul Guillaume and Thomas Munro.3 The first mask in this list is in the Historical Museum at Berne, where there were no data concerning its provenience. It is assigned to the Ogowe River by Frobenius on the strength of a comparison with figs. 52, 53, 54 (pl. VI) in his Masken. The second (fig. 39, pl. IV), from the State Museum of Ethnography at Leiden, is said in the legend at the foot of the plate to be from “Loango”; apparently this should, according to Museum data (p. 17), read “Quillu,” i.e. Kwilu River, which is, roughly, the northern boundary of the old kingdom of Loango. The provenience of the remaining examples, according to the official data, is as follows: Ivili (University Museum, Oxford), Sette Kama (Free Public Museum, Liverpool), Ogowe (Museum of Ethnology, Hamburg), Loango-Ogowe (Visser Collection, Leipzig Museum of Ethnology), M’pongwe (Barnes Foundation).

Among all these locations only two provide the name of a tribe, viz., Ivili and Mpongwe. The former live at or near the confluence of the Ngunye with the main stream of the Ogowe and the latter seventy or eighty miles away on the coast on each side of the Gaboon estuary. The attribution to the Mpongwe appears, like that of Frobenius to the Ogowe in the case of the first mask on the list, to be matter of inference ; at any rate, the list of figures in Primitive Negro Sculpture is preceded by a note to the effect that the attributions are estimated by the senior author. Frobenius’s last attribution, to Loango-Ogowe, is, from its vagueness, evidently, like his first, inferred from the resemblance of the mask in question to the remaining four, concerning whose places of origin we have what may be presumed to be first-hand information.

From this information, taking it simply as it stands, no mask of this type entering a museum without specific and reliable data could justifiably be labelled otherwise than by some such combination of geographical names as that used by Frobenius, marking the northern and southern limits of the region from which such masks have been known to come. If M. Guillaume’s attribution is based on data supplied by the collector or the original owner of the mask, he has moved one boundary of this region a little further north, from the Ogowe to the Gaboon. It should have been noted before that Sette Kama is the name of a town on the coast about 150 miles to the south of the estuary of the Ogowe proper, and that the mouth of the Kwilu is some 200 miles south of Sette Kama. The latter place appears to have been named after a tribe who were settled as far north as the lower course of the Ogowe and Fernand Vaz rivers. Thus we have three tribes whose names have been connected with these masks—the Mpongwe, the Kama (Commi, Nkomi, etc.), and the Ivili. The territories of the first two of these groups are con-tiguous; they are both coast tribes and despisers of the bush tribes of the interior like the Ivili.

If we are to depend entirely on the data recorded above, we have not succeeded in establishing any very definite limits of the territory to which a mask of this type can be assigned. The coastal edge of the territory over which we have been wandering is itself rather discouragingly long, and the rivers Ogowe and Kwilu are both streams of considerable length, the former especially having a very extensive basin. From the above data these masks seem to have had a distribution practically coinciding with the southern two-thirds of the large French West African territory commonly known as the Gaboon, from a small river in the northwestern part of it, and with a considerable portion of southern French Congo as well. As far as our masks are concerned, it is possible to locate them within a much narrower circle, although unfortunately, like so many other African masks which have been brought into the United States and Europe, we have no first-hand information about them whatever.

Mask of face with crested hair or headpiece with cicatrization on forehead and temples
Mask from the Ngunye, an affluent of the Ogowe River in French Equatorial Africa
Museum Object Number: AF5366
Image Number: 688

The two masks in question bear in relief in the middle of the forehead a lozenge-shaped group of nine closely set small prominences coloured red in contrast to the whitened facial portion of the masks, and this device is repeated on the temples. It represents the cicatrization or scar-tattooing which is so common a means of adornment of the person among West African peoples. Such designs are many and varied and they are applied both to the body and the face. The French explorer, P. B. DuChaillu, on his second journey, in 1864 and 1865, through French Equatorial Africa, crossed the River Ngunye, the principal southern tributary of the Ogowe, a short distance north of the second parallel of south latitude. Here he found, on both sides of the river, a tribe whom he calls the Apono. Their neighbours to the east were known to him as the Ishogo. Speaking of Apono fashions in personal adornment he says that “the women have for ornament tattooed scars on their forehead; very often these consist of nine rounded prominences similar in size to peas, and arranged in the form of a lozenge between their eyebrows, and they have similar raised marks on their cheeks.”4 At first sight, this would seem to fix the responsibility for the production of our two masks on the Apono (Bapuno). But later he observed among the Ishogo also that some of the women had raised pea-like marks like those of the Bapuno women between their eyebrows and on their cheeks. This fashion in cicatrization, then, seems to be the prevailing mode among the Bapuno women and to have been copied by some of the Ishogo women, and the masks, so far as the evidence of the scars is concerned, are either Ishogo or Bapuno masks and in any case represent women.

Is there any other “internal evidence” to be gathered from the masks, which will allow of a decision between these two claimants for authorship? Unfortunately, none which is decisive, but some which seems to tip the balance of probability in favour of the Ishogo. The other especially striking feature of both these masks is the coiffure, which, from what we know of the methods of hairdressing among the tribes of the Ogowe and Gaboon, we may assume to be built up of hair, still rooted in the scalp or of shed hair preserved for the purpose, on a framework of cane or wood or on a pad made of cloth of palm fibre. Although most of the tribes of the region are given to some extravagance in this particular, the women’s hairdressing of two groups especially made an impression on DuChaillu. These were the Ashira, whose country he crossed before reaching the Bapuno, and the eastern neighbours of the latter, the Ishogo, who, as we have seen, flattered the Bapuno in the most practical manner by copying their fashion in face decoration.

Now, observation of the coiffure represented in our two masks shows that it consists essentially of a central tower-like portion, not far from cylindrical in form, flanked by two flattish pads made up, like the central portion, of tightly braided locks or thrums combed out of the whole fleece, so to speak.

DuChaillu saw nothing like this among the Ashira or the Bapuno, but the towering hair structures of the Ishogo impressed him so strongly that he made a classification of the principal modes, which he illustrates by means of three sketches, entitled “Oblique Chignon,” “Horizontal Chignon,” and “Vertical Chignon.” Like many another traveller, he points, with obliquely imbedded tongue, a satiric moral at the fashions of the civilized fair, the better to adorn an otherwise plain tale: “I had noticed how curious the headdresses of the women were, being so unlike the fashions I had seen among any of the tribes I had visited. Although these modes are sometimes very grotesque, they are not devoid of what English ladies, with their present fashions, might consider good taste : in short, they cultivate a remarkable sort of chignons. I have remarked three different ways of hairdressing as most prevalent among the Ishogo belles. The first is to train the hair into a tower-shaped mass elevated from eight to ten inches from the crown of the head ; the hair from the forehead to the base of the tower and also that of the back part up to the ears being closely shaved off. In order to give shape to the tower, they make a framework, generally out of old pieces of grass-cloth, and fix the hair round it. Another mode is to wear the tower, with two round balls of hair, one on each side, above the ear.

“A third fashion is similar to the first, but the tower, instead of being perpendicular to the crown, is inclined obliquely from the back of the head. . ..”5

It is the second mode described by DuChaillu which resembles in essentials the mode of our two masks. The two tufts of hair above the ears in his illustration of what he calls the “oblique chignon” are not braided into flaps or pads like those of the masks, and consequently the ridges which run down the middle of these flaps and those which mark them off from the main structure are wanting in the drawing, while the parting which there runs down the middle of the front of this structure is replaced in the masks by a vertical ridge like those of the lateral flaps, and like that which, doubled in the case of one mask, runs, like the similarly bounding ridge of the flaps on the same mask, along the base of the structure and behind the shaven zone at the top of the forehead, which is marked, on both masks, by a red stripe. The lateral pointed flaps of the masks are certainly intended to represent the results reached by plaiting two such bushy tufts as appear in the sketch which accompanies Du Chaillu’s description ; and if he did not observe such plaiting in the case of the women, he has a drawing of an Ishogo man, in which three such plaited triangles of hair, one at the back of his head and one over each ear, depend from the shaven crown.6

Of the Ashango, eastern neighbours of the Ishogo, DuChaillu notes that they have the same headdress as the latter, but their modes in cicatrization are not described, and the fact that they shave off their eyebrows eliminates them as possible models for the two masks with which we are concerned.7

If these masks are not productions of the Ishogo—though the combination of similarity in headdress and identity in face markings with those reported from that tribe furnishes good ground for believing that they are—there need be no hesitation in assigning them either to that tribe or to their neighbours the Bapuno, the Apono of Du-Chaillu.

The portrait of “Yanaway, a Gabun Princess,” in J. L. Wilson’s Western Africa,8 shows a headdress which bears some resemblance to that of the masks. But no cicatrization pattern has been reported from the Mpongwe which resembles that represented here. The Mpongwe, like the other coastal peoples of this region, are believed to have come to the coast from the interior, the former indeed from the district now occupied by the Ishogo and Bapuno, and they may have left a fashion in hairdressing behind them or borrowed and imported it without also importing a fashion in cicatrization to the coast.

It remains to account for the wide and apparently somewhat capricious distribution of these masks. The coastal peoples, especially the Mpongwe and the Nkomi or Kama, are keen traders and have always used the rivers to bring down to the coast the products, rubber, ivory, and, formerly, slaves, of the bush tribes. The last mentioned phase of this river-borne, coastward trade, in a comment on its direction made by DuChaillu, is important and suggestive in connection with the diffusion of these masks in a northwesterly and a southwesterly direction. The observation of DuChaillu suggests how the masks enumerated above, if masks of this type are an exclusive product of the region inhabited by the Ishogo and Bapuno, may have reached the coast at the widely separated points where they have come into the hands of European collectors. He says that the Ishogo who were sold by their kindred as slaves were taken by the traders down the Ngunye into the Ogowe and so reached the country between Cape Lopez and the Fernand Vaz, i.e., the coastal territory inhabited by the Nkomi, “while most of the Aponos sold reach the coast by way of Mayomba.”

If by this is meant Mayomba or Mayumba town near the mouth of the Nyanga River, slaves sold there would not merely be on their way to the coast, but would already have reached it; if it is the territory of Mayombe, the back country of Loango, the northern boundary of that territory is the Chiloango River, the upper part of which approaches the upper Kwilu. The Apono slaves would travel by the Ngunye River, in the opposite direction, of course, from that taken by the dealers in Ishogo slaves, and would find themselves at
the end of this part of the trail at no great distance from the headwaters of one branch of the Kwilu. Whichever Mayomba or Mayombe is meant, arrival at the Kwilu, in the former case by way of the coast, would be in the natural sequence of things for slaves carrying mementoes of their former home, or practising in a new country the arts they had learnt in the old. Thus we have accounted for the northern and southern limits of the reported distribution of masks of the type in question; drift along the coast from either extremity of the line is easily explained.

The masks of western Africa, from the upper Zambezi River to the lower Congo and northwards to the region with which we are dealing, were used, as far as is known, chiefly, if not entirely, in connection with the ceremonies attendant upon death and with those which form the ritual portion of the activities of the secret societies which are so numerous and so active in this region. In both cases the masks form part of the paraphernalia of the dancers, or at least of the chief performers in these ceremonies, which generally include dancing. The three functions of masks indicated here overlap, or rather, probably in most cases coincide, since it is one of the functions of secret societies in negro Africa to take charge of the rites and ceremonies connected with death and burial, since also membership in those secret societies concerning which we have most information—information which is in the nature of things scanty and lacking in detail—involves a period of training and initiation which corresponds to a belief—at least among the uninitiated—in an entrance by death into the world of spirits and by resurrection into a new existence as a privileged member of society.

There is an extension northward of the zone in which these politico-religious organizations flourish through the Cameroons and Upper Guinea and into the Nigerian Sudan, and it is difficult if not impossible to determine the focus from which this important feature of West African culture has been disseminated. But it seems certain that the functions and rites of the associations of the Gaboon-Ogowe region relate them more nearly to those of the Lower Congo and Loango than to those of Upper Guinea. Notably the widespread Nkimba of the south has a near relation in the Ndembo of the Bateke who have carried their conquests and their trade from Stanley Pool on the Congo to the upper Ogowe; and who were already established in those parts in the sixteenth century. By a route further westward, the valley of the Ngunye, the Bavili of Loango reached the heart of the Ogowe region where a group of that stock, the lvili, are established near the junction of the Ngunye and Ogowe rivers. They must have been the van of the advance northward from the maritime Congo region by this route, since the Bapuno whom we have seen on the middle Ngunye, well behind the Ivili, belong to the same linguistic group. We have thus two southern sources from which the secret societies of the Ogowe-Gaboon may have been directly influenced, if not inspired to their beginnings.

One of the most widespread of the secret societies of the Ogowe-Gaboon is known by a name which represents one form or another of the term Okukwe or Okuku which is applied to it on the coast. According to the missionary R.H. Nassau, who spent many years in the Gaboon and Ogowe, Ukuku of the coastal country is the same society which is known on the Ogowe, near the confluence of that river and the Ngunye, by the Galwa (Galoa, Igalwa) negroes, as Yasi.9 Another name is Isyoga, which recalls the tribal name Ishogo and reminds us that not only masks but the ideas of which masks are the symbols have been carried by slaves from the interior coastwards. Of another cult we are told that it has passed from the basin of the upper Ngunye by the agency of Issogho (Ishogo), Ashango, Apingi, and Eshira (Ashira) slaves into the lake region of the Galwa and thence throughout the Ogowe and into the Gaboon. In these facts we have an explanation of the general similarity in the practices of the secret societies, so far as we have accounts of these, throughout this region.

Okukwe or Ukuku has travelled even further than the farthest point named by Nassau. DuChaillu came across it, under the name, as he heard it, of Ocuya, among the Bapuno, who, he says, “are very fond of the ocuya performances. The ocuya is a man supporting a large framework resembling a giant, and whimsically dressed and ornamented, who walks and dances on stilts. In Mokaba he appears in a white mask with thick open lips disclosing the rows of teeth minus the middle incisors, according to the Apono fashion. The long garment reaches to the ground, covering the stilts. It struck me as a droll coincidence that his headdress resembled exactly a lady’s bonnet, at least the resemblance held good before chignons” —DuChaillu’s pet aversion—” came into vogue; it was surmounted by feathers and made of the skin of a monkey.”10 If we were tracing the use of stilts as a feature of these societies, here is a step southwards on the track that seems to lead back to the Mukish of Angola. In the north the stilts are used to simulate the gigantic stature of the “spirit” leader.

According to J.L. Wilson,11 who knew the coastal country more than seventy years ago, this association, which he calls Kuhkwi, was then “a sort of theatrical affair, intended more as a public amusement than anything else.” In other words, it was even then in a state of decadence on the coast, but the few details which he gives, especially the emergence “from a queer-looking house built chiefly of reeds and leaves” of the masked leader, who dances on stilts, and scares away the women and children, show that it was originally a serious association conforming to the pattern of such institutions in that region.

Another survival of its originally serious purpose is mentioned by Nassau,12 who speaks of a dance “held in the Gaboon region . . . near the close of whatever prescribed time of mourning. It is called Ukukwe’ (for the spirit), as if for the gratification of the hovering spirit of the dead.” Whether or not Nassau’s interpretation of the purpose of the dance is correct, we know that the conduct of ceremonies connected with death was an important function of these associations. Nassau, curiously enough, fails to connect this rite with the society he calls Ukuku. The dancing on stilts by a masked individual is another link with the south, where the Mukish (Mokisso, Nkissi of the maritime Congo and Loango) of Angola performs in the same manner.13

The society called Nda apparently superseded for serious purposes Ukukwe or Ukuku of the Mpongwe on the coast. Nda is also an order confined to men and strongly resembles Ukukwe, even in the detail of a masked dancer on stilts whose approach the women and children flee, and in being alleged to have for its chief object the disciplining of these two classes in the community and of the slaves.14 In reality, like other similar associations of the men in the Gaboon and Ogowe, this was, no doubt, only a part of its general political or civic activities. These were directed towards the maintenance of a respect for law and order in their communities, through sanctions which they made compelling by identifying themselves with some god or spirit after whom the society was named, and who appeared at intervals among the initiated. On such occasions all others were constrained at their peril to avoid the precincts of the shrine in which he for the time resided and to shun any public place in which he was expected to appear. Characteristically, again, Nda appears at the death of a person connected with the order, at the inauguration of officials, and at the birth of twins. The fuller accounts that we have of the southern orders reveal a similar interest in births of a kind regarded as extraordinary or prodigious, and this brings out once more the close relationship of the associations in the two regions and the importance for them of supervising and surrounding with magical or supernatural sanctions the principal crises of human life —birth, death, and the entrance into adult existence ; the admission to the novitiate in a secret society took place usually at or about the age of puberty. The incidents of the novitiate itself resume symbolically, in typical cases, and consecrate with “rites of transition” these crises: the neophyte dies (falls into a swoon), is brought back to life (the new social life in which he is, when his novitiate is completed, to play his full part) in the seclusion of the “bush school,” and this rebirth is followed by a period of education—as if the novice were passing again through his childhood, learning to walk, to eat, to speak a new language. This language is intelligible only to adepts, and forms one of the secrets of these associations.

An important secret society of the region from which our masks are derived is the one described under the name of Bouiti by MM. Daney and Leroux.

Mask of face with crested hair or headpiece with cicatrization on forehead and temples
Mask from the Ngunye, Gaboon region, West Africa
Image Number: 689

Among the Itsogho (Ishogo), says M. Daney, Mouanga (Mwanga) is the high god. He is never represented in an image or other material embodiment. He is invisible, remote, only to be approached through Bouiti (Bwiti), his auxiliary, the spirit or god who presides over the secret society which bears his name. To approach and influence Bwiti one must be a member of this society. We have, unfortunately, few details of the course of events during the novitiate of a candidate for membership. The training involves the learning of a “sacred” language, which, in the Ishogo society, is said to be that of a pygmy tribe of this region mixed with the language of the Bapindji (Apingi). When his training is completed, the neophyte in his kilt of banana leaf fringe, with his body painted half white and half red, and wearing red parrot’s feathers in his hair, is made ready for initiation. He is given to drink a potion made from the macerated bark of a certain tree and he must also chew some of this bitter bark. This is said to produce a condition of hysterical excitement in which the novice beholds Bwiti, like a little man, flame-coloured, dancing and grimacing before him. According to M. Leroux, Bwiti appears when the novice is brought before his bandja or temple, and the apparition is not the result of hallucination but is an actual image of the god manipulated in the doorway of the temple in the red smoky light of torches; for these ceremonies take place at night. The leader of the society proclaims the “oracles of the god,” and the novice is challenged to say what objects are concealed at the back of the bandja; if his guess is correct this is the sign that Bwiti permits his entrance into the “sect.” These objects are usually the “attributes of Bwiti,” such things as antelopes’ horns containing ashes of the dead, shells painted white and red, bells, drums, a stringed musical instrument called ngombo, etc. Presumably the candidate has been coached beforehand. He is now a “man,” and takes part in the dancing and banquet which follow. The banqueters consume the meat of a sheep with bananas from a tree which has been planted, has grown, blossomed, and borne fruit, all during the night of the banquet.

The Bwiti dance is performed not only at these festivals of initiation but also in connection with funerary rites celebrated six months after a man’s death. The bandja has a niche for the exposure of men’s corpses; women’s corpses are not exposed there and women are excluded from the society.15

In the case of one, at least, of the southern societies, the “bush school ” includes the youth of both sexes. Usually there is a rigid separation, and women’s secret societies exist, although they are less numerous than men’s, from the ceremonies and schools of which men are strictly excluded on penalties similar to those which bar women from those of the men’s associations.

Corresponding to the Nda of the Mpongwe men, which, as we have seen, is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping in order the women and children and the uninitiated in general, is the Njembe of the women. “The ceremony of initiation requires several weeks, and girls at the age of ten or twelve years may be admitted if their parents will bear the expense of it, During the process of initiation all the women belonging to the order paint their bodies in the most fantastic colours. The face, arms, breast, and legs are covered over with red and white spots, sometimes arranged in circles and at other times in straight lines. They march in regular file from the village to the woods, where all their ceremonies are performed, accompanied by music on a crescent-formed drum. The party spend whole nights in the woods”—in some other societies this period occupies months and even years—” [and] a sort of vestal-fire is used in celebration of these ceremonies, which is never allowed to go out until they are all over.

“The Njembe make great pretensions, and, as a body, are really feared by the men. They pretend to detect thieves, to find out the secrets of their enemies, and in various ways they are useful to the community in which they live, or are, at least, so regarded by the people. The object of the institution originally, no doubt, was to protect the females from harsh treatment on the part of their husbands; and as their performances are always veiled in mystery, and they have acquired the reputation of performing wonders, the men are, no doubt, very much restrained by the fear and respect which they have for them as a body.”16

We are told by Nassau that in the tribes where Njembe exists women have much more freedom from men than elsewhere in this region. He tells a story of an attempt, made about twenty-five years before the date (1904) of the publication of his book on Fetichism in West Africa, by two Germans to witness in concealment a Njembe performance. The incident is a rather striking illustration of the power which this organization was able to exert even over white men in what was, even then, a comparatively civilized community. The two men, although they had Njembe wives, had tried in vain to find out what went on at Njembe ceremonies and so resolved to try to get close enough to watch a performance which was going on in a jungle near their trading-house one dark night. Their approach was detected before they had had time enough to observe anything of importance and they were chased away and recognized. The Njembe women laid a curse on the culprits and declared openly that they intended to poison them. They would have done so but for the intercession of the elder trader’s wife on his behalf and afterwards of this trader himself, who was a popular person, on behalf of his junior. As it was, large fines had to be paid and the younger man’s health was for a time seriously impaired by the operation of the Njembe curse—or poison.17

Both Wilson and Nassau say that Njembe has no special presiding spirit. Nassau adds that “when the society has occasion to investigate a theft or other crime, it invokes the usual ilâgâ and other spirits.”18 These ilâgâ (ilogo, inlâgâ) are the same which Wilson classes with abambo (ibambo) as “the spirits of dead men . . . Abambo are the spirits of the ancestors of the people, and Inlâgâ are the spirits of strangers and have come from a distance. These are the spirits with which men are possessed, and there is no end to the ceremonies used to deliver them from their power.”19 Burton remarks on Wilson’s distinction between ibambo and ilâgâ that “this was probably an individual tenet.”20 It is true that DuChaillu, who was everywhere along his route regarded as a spirit, was known as ibamba among the Ishogo,3 and he was certainly recognized as coming from a distance. On the other hand Wilson makes his statement not as an opinion but as if it were an ascertained fact. He was speaking of the tribes on and near the coast and, while there seems to be a great deal of similarity in the nomenclature of religion and magic among all these tribes, it is quite possible that the distinction referred to may hold good for the coast and not for the interior.

While Nassau and Wilson are explicit in the statement that there is no presiding genius peculiar to the Njembe society, Daney is equally explicit in the contrary sense. He says that men and women worship different “genii”: “The former worship and pray to Bouiti, the women have their own genius whom they worship in their secret societies or n’Djembe, concerning which we have only vague information, since the adept is required to preserve secrecy under penalty of death.” Obviously the difficulty which foreign men have in gaining information concerning men’s secret societies is much increased when they attempt to inquire into the secrets of the women’s. It is difficult to see how the prestige of Njembe could be great enough to offset that of the men’s societies and effectively protect women’s rights unless Njembe had a patron whose power was believed to be at least as compelling as that of Nda or Bwiti. Unquestionably the women’s societies are modelled on those of the men; Burton even states that the Njembe of the coast was “dropped a few years ago by the men” and “taken up by their wives.”21 Whether or not the last statement is literally true, it seems extremely unlikely that the women in forming their associations would omit the feature on which the similar societies of the men depended so largely for their effectiveness. Of the Njembe of the Ishogo, Daney was able further to ascertain only that the young novices were subjected to a series of very severe tests before initiation, that this initiation was followed by a dance held in the heart of the bush, and that the girls then received advice on various matters, particularly in relation to hygiene.22

Since, so far as we know, the masks worn as a feature of the ritual of these men’s societies represented men (sometimes animals), it is probable that the masks of the women’s societies represented women; since our masks are feminine and the masks of this region appear all to be connected with the ritual of the secret societies, it seems another probable conclusion that our masks are Njembe masks; and, from what has gone before, that they are masks of the Apono or Ishogo—probably Ishogo—Njembe. Although in some cases in the south novices and also some previously admitted members of the society wear masks at the ceremonies, I know of no definite statement which attributes the wearing of masks in the Ogowe region to anyone except the leader who impersonates the spirits. The two masks figured here then are probably to be considered as leaders’ masks representing some female deity presiding over Njembe groups.

The masks, as we have seen, are, or originally were, coloured white, so far as the general surface is concerned. White is in Africa, especially in West Africa, very generally associated with spirits, as it is with spooks among ourselves. This conception is almost universal, indeed, and has a rational basis in the facts on which a belief in spirits rests. Such apparitions commonly appear out of the mysterious dark, at night, and the illusory phenomena which give rise to the belief that a ghost has been seen must have a light colour in order to be seen at all. Again, so far as the conception of a separable soul or spirit rests on the exhalation of the breath, this when it becomes visible is so in the form of white vapour. Among the Bahuana of the southwestern Belgian Congo, one of the souls of a dead man appears at night only, being composed of a white misty substance. Uvengwa, says Nassau, in his account of the religious beliefs of the people of the Ogowe-Gaboon, is “the self-resurrected spirit and body of a dead human being. . . . It is white in colour.” Daney relates that, at the Okukwe performances, the songs which accompany the dances usually contain insults or reproaches addressed to the women—who are nowadays spectators, though still kept at a distance from the performers—on the score of their light behaviour. Sometimes a legend is chanted, one, for example, which tells of the marriage of a girl with a ghost. Daney explains this as an allusion to the temporary unions of white men with native women. He justifies this explanation on the native belief that ghosts are white like Europeans, who, they declare, even smell like corpses! In this same region, both DuChaillu and Nassau—and their experience was similar to that of other white men in Africa—were commonly regarded as spirits. This was undoubtedly because of their complexion. “You are white people and are spirits; you come from Njambi’s town and know all about him,” said a native whom Nassau questioned about their high god. “White man’s land” was at the bottom of the sea, and to that land some negroes were fortunate enough to go after death, “exchanging a dusky skin for a white one.” A group of Bulu (Fang) women who once stood watching Milligan were heard to remark : “The spirit’s hands and face are white, but his feet are black, and I suppose the rest of his body is black.” Du-Chaillu frequently records being greeted or referred to as a spirit, on his journey from the coast to Ashangoland beyond the Ngunye.23 The explanation does not seem to have occurred to him; indeed, travellers have often been at a loss to explain this attitude on the part of negroes except on the assumption that the latter were so impressed by the obvious superiority and beauty of whiteness that they believed that the possession of this physical character implied the possession of supernatural qualities. The real explanation is in fact much simpler, as we have seen.

The association of white men with ghosts (ancestral spirits) was strikingly illustrated for Pechuel-Loesche by an experience in Loango, which, incidentally, furnished him with the true meaning of the name, Mindele, by which white men were known. One evening, being tired, he lay down to rest in the hollow left by the caving in of a grave. Some movement that he made must have attracted the attention of someone in the bushes near by, for he heard a shriek followed by the noises of a hasty flight through the jungle. Next morning the local chief called on him and demanded satisfaction for his having, as the chief said, frightened some women to death. They had seen him rise out of a grave and taken him for a ndele (mundele), i.e. for “a ghost, which, as such, appears with a white skin, like our spooks in white shrouds.” This, says Pechuel-Loesche, accounts for the name given to whites, although the natives have forgotten its real meaning.24

This author believes that the whiteness of spirits and the consequent connection of white men with them in the mind of the negro is to be accounted for by a tradition which he found in Loango, and says is general in Bantu Africa, that these negroes had white men among their ancestors. This leaves the blondness of the ancestors to be accounted for, however, and this can be done either by assuming an ancient—yet not too ancient to have been forgotten in tradition—migration of white men into southern Africa, or by following the explanation outlined above, according to which the ancestors being in after times envisaged as spirits would be ipso facto white. In view of facts known, rather than conjectured, there cannot be much doubt as to which explanation is the more fundamental and the more general in its applicability in Africa. If it is objected that the legend reported by Pechuel-Loesche relates a fight between white and black ancestors and so requires an explanation that would account for different complexions among spirits, it may be answered that it is not contended that negroes are more consistent in the application of theory to myth than other people, or that all spirits are white in Africa. Bwiti, for example, is red or red and white.

The association between whiteness and the spirits of the departed is illustrated in a number of other ways. The occasions on which face or body were smeared with a white paste made of chalk or pipeclay are almost always, when any reason is assigned for the use of this paste, those on which the persons employing it come into close association with death and hence with spirits, or when they are themselves personifying, or assimilated to, spiritual beings, as in the case of initiation into, or other participation in the rites of, secret societies. In the region with which we are primarily concerned, or that part of it best known to Nassau, which included both the Gaboon proper and the Ogowe to its junction with the Ngunye, we are told by that writer that during the period of mourning the face is painted with ashes or clay, presumably pipeclay. Going further afield among the western Bantu, we learn that the Bangala women, when in mourning, cover the whole body with pipeclay and go naked. This is a custom also among the Bulu, a group of Fang of the Gaboon-Cameroons border. Among the Baluba, after a burial, the gravediggers rub themselves all over with white ochre.25

In West Africa, where secret societies flourish, circumcision, along with other ceremonies attending the attainment of puberty, is commonly a part of the initiation of youths into these societies. In connection with these ceremonies the painting of the face or body with a paste made of pipeclay is of common occurrence. Banshaka youths, after circumcision, dance at the puberty ceremonies having their bodies painted white. Among the Yaunde, a Fang tribe of the southern Cameroons, the candidates for initiation are secluded for from eight to ten days in a special house, during which time their bodies are painted with white clay. In the Cameroons, again, in the country which, like that of the Yaunde, borders upon the region which we are primarily considering, there is an institution known as Mukuku—the name recalls Ukuku, Ukukwe, Kuhkwi of the Gaboon-Ogowe—concerned with the initiation of boys between the ages of six and ten. They wander in the forest for a year under the supervision of a master; their naked bodies are painted with white clay. As in the Ogowe and the lower Congo under similar circumstances, these neophytes have a private language. Further north, in the Cameroons and Calabar, where we pass into Upper Guinea, whose numerous secret societies we have not space to discuss in this connection, the members of the famous Egbo society paint their bodies white. Of the Bane, neighbours of the Yaunde, we are told that the boys at the time of their initiation have their bodies painted white. They wear about their hips a kilt of the type worn by women, made of split banana leaves. This is the same garment which is worn by the neophytes of the Bwiti (M’bwiti) “sect” of Daney, whose bodies, he tells us, are painted half red and half white. A curious crinoline of the same or similar material, but held away from the hips by a hoop or framework on which the fringe is hung, is the typical costume of white-painted novices in the region of the lower Congo—another mark of the relationship which seems to unite all these associations in the West. From a footnote to page 101 of Burton’s Gorilla Land (Vol. I) we learn that “Captain Boteler gives a sketch of the ‘Fetiche dance, Cape Lopez’ and an admirable description of Nda, who is mounted on stilts with a white mask, followed by negroes with chalked faces.” This is the Nda of the Mpongwe to whom reference has previously been made; his mask and stilts connect him with Ukuku (Ukukwe) and with the Mukish of Angola south of the lower Congo. During the progress of the initiation ceremonies of the Njembe, to which girls of from ten to twelve years of age are admitted, the women of the society paint their faces, bodies, and limbs white and red.26

Their death to the old world, reception into the world of spirits, bodily resurrection to a new life in which they share the duties and privileges of adult freemen of the tribe, is recorded unmistakably enough for the societies of the south, and it is plain that the painting of face or body with the white pigment is the symbol, or means, or both, of the assimilation of novices and adepts to the spirits whose company they join during initiation and other ceremonies of the society. It is also plain that West African spirits of the dead are often envisaged as white, as we have seen; that close association with those who have passed or are just passing, by way of death, into the world of these white spirits, makes it advisable to imitate their whiteness, presumably because one is less likely to be hurt by a spirit if one can put on spirituality, or at least its appearance, on occasions when contact with a disembodied spirit is most likely to take place; or because benefits that may be received from spirits are more likely to pass from one spirit to another by way of the natural sympathy that may be supposed to exist between two individuals in the same sphere or condition than from a spirit to an individual who is still in a condition merely corporeal; or for both reasons. The same reasons hold for the assumption of the white paint by members of secret societies, and their paint would act also as a symbol of their separation from and superiority to the “unspiritualized” uninitiated on whom they were to impose their will.

An ingenious method of intensifying the spiritual forces which were assumed with the coating of white paint was practised in the Ogowe-Gaboon. The Ashira and other tribes on the Ogowe and in Fernand Vaz kept the heads of relatives, severed from the bodies not long after death, in pipeclay. The clay mixed with the juices of decomposition was smeared on the person and served as a protection from danger. These skulls and the white powder to which they communicated the powers of the spirit of the deceased, had not merely a defensive influence but were also capable of conferring active benefits. Of these spirit-inhabited charms, Wilson explains the action as follows: “The brain is supposed to be the seat of wisdom and the chalk absorbs this by being placed under the head during the process of decomposition. By applying this to the foreheads of the living, it is supposed they will imbibe the wisdom of the person whose brain has dripped upon the chalk.” When the Nkomi, who are neighbours, on the coastward side, of the Ashira, were building a house for Du-Chaillu, this involved the removal of a mondah, or fetish of the nature just described, which contained the skulls of chimpanzees. “They flattered themselves,” he says, “that it was this powerful fetish which brought me to settle on this spot. They have, in common with all the negroes of this part of Africa, a notion that there is some mysterious connection or affinity between the chimpanzee and the white man. It is owing, I believe, to the pale face of the chimpanzee, which has suggested the notion that we are descended from it as the negro has descended from the black-faced gorilla. I heard of other headmen of villages making mondahs with skulls of chimpanzees associated with skulls of their ancestors, believing that these would draw my heart to them and induce me to give them presents or trust them with goods.” According to Daney, the spirits of the dead haunt their former dwelling places and remain associated with family life, which they assist, if the proper rites are performed in their honour by the survivors. The head of the deceased is preserved as the tutelary fetish of the family—it is these heads which are found in the mondahs—and girls at their initiation into the Njembe are sworn on these heads not to reveal the secrets of the society. The Fang use skulls in a similar way—not only the skulls of relatives, which we are told form part of “the fetish representing a protecting spirit belonging to a clan or tribe ” but they employ also the skulls of chimpanzees, as the friends of DuChaillu did, and those of albinos as well.27

The peculiar position of albinos among the negroes of West Africa, both in Upper and in Lower Guinea, is undoubtedly connected with the same belief in the pale colour of ghosts which led to the placing of white men in the class of spirits. In the last number of the JOURNAL, it was shown how dwarfs in West Africa, from being objects of a curiosity queerly mingled with awe rose in the world through diverse stages of superstitious esteem to a vantage point from which they actually scaled the negro Olympus. Albinos have, apparently, followed a similar path to the same goal.

Albinos are to be found in almost every community in Southern Guinea, says Wilson; they were regarded as “somewhat sacred” and their persons were inviolable. They are not unlike other negroes, he says, except for their colour, which is almost pure white, their hair, which is cream-coloured, though of the usual texture, and their eyes, which are grey and weak. This appears to be a description of a type of albinism which is not far from complete.28

In one part of Southern Guinea, at least, in the Gaboon, the superstitious feeling indicated had precisely the opposite effect. Albinos were believed to be bringers of ill luck and were generally killed at birth. In distant Unyoro, in East Africa, also they were held to be “unlucky.” The same apparently contradictory issue of what must be a state of feeling identical with that entertained towards albinos in the rest of Guinea is reported from the northwestern extremity of Upper Guinea. In Senegambia they were regarded as evil spirits and sorcerers, and were “preferably killed.”29 But, as we have seen in the case of dwarfs, which, with other monstrosities were sometimes exposed at birth, the two apparently incompatible attitudes could coexist in the same community, being simply two phases of the same underlying emotional condition. As we shall see shortly, albinos were sometimes the victims specially selected for sacrifices. This result could easily issue from the same substratum of feeling about albinos, since human victims were simply messengers to the ancestors or gods and it was important to select envoys who were best suited for the purpose. Albinos, whose colour assimilated them to the spirits, would naturally be most acceptable to the spiritual beings to whose address they were despatched. We shall find that the despatching of the albino messenger-victim was sometimes intended to influence Europeans, who, as we have seen, were spirits and would naturally receive most willingly an envoy whose colour assimilated him to their own other-worldly and hence potent condition. It may be that the baldly reported putting away of albinos in the Gaboon and in Senegambia was really sacrificial in intention like the Nigerian instances.

In East African Uganda, not as in the neighbouring Unyoro, albinos were, so we are told, mere curiosities, maintained as such by great men and the king. To return to the West, which is more to our purpose, Bastian saw in the old kingdom of Kongo (of which Loango was an offshoot or province) an albino who was regarded as a “fetish” with power over Europeans—another instance of the significant association which we noticed above. He had the right to take any property he chose—so had the white-painted novices of some of the secret societies—and the owner felt himself honoured in his deprivation. In Loango albinos were regarded, as were dwarfs also, as the property of the king, were kept about his person, and were considered his “guardian spirits.” With less precision an old writer speaks of the King of Loango’s dwarfs and albinos as “prodigies” in the negroes’ eyes.30

In Southern Nigeria, at Brass and Duketown, albinos were sacrificed to the surf juju to bring European ships to the ports. At peace ceremonies at Abo an albino was killed. The Jekri chiefs went down to the mouth of their river in their war canoes and there threw into the water an albino boy and girl. The custom of sacrificing to the river deity a light-coloured negro girl, as at Bonny, or an albino, “was common to all the riverside tribes of the Niger Delta.” It was the only way of appealing to these river gods. The sacrifice at Bonny was made “at the big water,” i.e. “the equinoctial (September) tide.31

Mask of face with crested hair or headpiece with cicatrization on forehead and temples
Profile of mask on preceding plate
Image Number: 690

In Yorubaland, hunchbacks, albinos, lepers, dwarfs, and cripples are thought of as “unnatural beings, suffering the vengeance of the gods” ; they are therefore considered the peculiar property of the king and of the gods, and reserved as priests and priestesses—to Obatala and other gods, the albinos, dwarfs, and hunchbacks being thought peculiarly suited for this vocation. Obatala “forms the child in the womb,” so that albinism is his handiwork; or in other words he sends a spirit emissary among the people to punish them or to remind them of his power. Among the Fanti of the Gold Coast, albinos were sacred to an albino goddess, Aynfwa; at puberty they became her priests and priestesses, and, as mouthpieces of the goddess, their directions were unquestioningly obeyed, so that if they indicated anyone as a victim desired by Aynfwa, that individual was immediately offered up.

Perhaps it was by way of the priesthood that albinos were elevated to definite places in the West Coast Olympus. Spirits of the deceased were, at any rate, potential gods, if, indeed, it is necessary sorry to draw a line of distinction, except to indicate rank or power, between such spirits and those which are sometimes named as actual deities.

This Aynfwa who spoke her decrees by the mouth of albino servitors was herself an albino and goddess of these pale-skinned Fanti. She was of human size and form and, curiously, covered with short white hair like that of a goat.32 Did she somehow unite in her own person hircine with human nature? And are animal victims also to be conceived of as messengers, like the human—instead of as merely food for the divinity to whom they were despatched—so that they, too, might come to contribute something, at least, to the constitution of the divinity? Composite gods are by no means unknown in West Africa.

Thus, to return to the Ogowe-Gaboon country: Ombwiri (Mbwiri), a river deity, has the head of a white man and the body of a fish. On the coast he has his home in the sea and, according to Miss Kingsley, is there “an old white man, not flesh-colour white, but chalk white.” He is the deputy of the blameless but otiose Anyambi. Mbwiri, like some other words33 used to designate “spirits” in general in this part of Africa, sometimes has a local appellation attached to it, by which to identify a chief spirit of some neighbourhood; sometimes, as above, is the spirit par excellence. In this character, he is the head of a local “sect” or secret society. Nzame of the Fang, who are newcomers to this region—evidently, so far as his name is concerned, the equivalent of the high, but indifferent, god Anyambi or Nzambi—was formerly conceived as black; contact with Europeans, whose whiteness convicts them of spiritliality, has inclined the Fang to whiten him. Perhaps a similar influence has led the Zulu of southeastern Africa to a compromise: their Athlanga is half black, half white.34

The dwarfish god of the surf at Cape Coast, Abrokhu, was ashen in colour. His dwarfishness and his colour recall the white Baronga godlings of Southeastern Africa, who also illustrate once again the connection between whiteness, the spirit world, and white men: the Baronga gave them the same name which they gave to Europeans. The Baronga godlings fell from the sky in great rains. There is a connection here between water, white men or albinos, and white gods, which we have seen illustrated in both Upper and Lower Guinea. The series, whether the relation between its terms is or is not accidental, also includes dwarf gods, as we see.35

A. E. Crawley in his discussion of masks and their uses observes that “the protégé of a guardian spirit wears a mask when dancing to represent that spirit and identify himself with it.” He believes, however, that “the ideas of assimilation, whether magical or religious, of terrorism, of protection, and even of disguise are secondary, and that the primary meaning of the mask is dramatic; the mask is a concrete result of the imitative instinct.”36 The identification of oneself with, i.e., assimilation to, the personality, whether supernatural or not, represented by a mask is surely inseparable from the wearing of a mask, which is unquestionably “a concrete result of the imitative instinct”: the first wearer of a mask was certainly disguising himself as somebody else and could not avoid, even if merely in play, a momentary assimilation of himself, in feeling, to the personality mimicked. This notion of assimilation is, I should say, fundamental to all mask-wearing; and the protégé of a guardian spirit, identifying himself with it by means of a mask, is in true line of descent from the earliest masker. Of the other purposes of masking enumerated, it is no doubt true that they “have no necessary development from one another but are natural applications to particular purposes of the original mimetic instinct.”

The desire for assimilation to the spirits which appears to underlie the whitening of face and body by these Guinea negroes and others is evidently also the reason for the wearing of masks by the leaders and other members of the secret societies: they are, as we have seen, spirits at least for the space of time occupied by the novitiate, the initiation, and the performances. The frequent whitening of their persons and the association of whiteness with spirituality or godhead, in the numerous instances cited, makes clear the reason for the frequent whitening of masks, both in the region with which we are here chiefly concerned, and in other regions where similar practices are followed, notably in the southern Congo and Angola. All the masks of the same type as those figured here appear from the photographs and drawings in which they are represented to be painted white, with one exception,37 and the narrow curved slit between the eyelids of our examples is evidently intended to represent the closing of the eyes in death, the event which turns one into a spirit.

The red colour which has been given to the lips and to the cicatrizations and the red band across the top of the forehead are probably also symbolical, not merely ornamental. For red too is associated with spirits. In this same region, after a funeral, a mixture containing powdered redwood is rubbed on the cheeks of the people and on the walls of the houses to keep off evil spirits. Bouiti’s image is painted half red, half white. In northern Congo-land sorcerers and exorcists, who consort familiarly with spirits, paint their bodies red and their faces white. Among the Bayaka a man killed in battle may send his soul to take vengeance on his slayer. The latter may escape retribution by wearing red feathers in his hair and painting his forehead red. The same people paint corpses red; and the mourning colour of Bayaka women is also red. The official witchfinder of the northern Baluba paints his body with white ochre and wears a tuft of red feathers on his head.38

The symbolic meaning of red in this connection is not clear. Miss Kingsley has a statement which explicitly connects it with the propitiation of spirits: “Among the Fan I found the most frequent charm-case was in the shape of a little sausage, made very neatly of pineapple fibre, the contents being the residence of the spirit or power, and the outside coloured red to flatter and please him—for spirits always like red because it is like blood.” According to Daney, white, among the Ishogo, is the symbol of good, and red of evil; and Bwiti appears to the novice in the form of a little man “of the colour of fire.”39

Frobenius propounded the theory of the assimilation to spirits of the members of West African secret societies and cited the use of masks and especially of masks painted white to implement or symbolize this assimilation. Karutz criticized this theory as not being supported by the evidence. Unfortunately the strongest evidence, of the class which is brought forward here, is rendered rather nugatory by the former writer, who, while he saw the importance of the whitening of masks and of the person in relation to his theory, was led astray by his prepossession in favour of an explanation referring this use of white to sun-worship—white symbolizing the sun—a position which in fact he does fail to support.40

Our whitened masks, then, represent, in all probability, a spirit impersonated by the leader of a women’s secret society of the Ishogo or the Bapuno at their esoteric rites of initiation, etc., which society either was, or was akin to, that Njembe which we have learnt was a favourite cult of the Gaboon-Ogowe region. The masks are masterpieces of African wood sculpture, almost unique for the delicate modelling, for instance, of the region of the eyes and the very faint malar prominences. The face is an almost perfect oval, in the literal sense of the word, rounded above and pointed below; the rather pointed half-oval of the headdress repeats and balances the lower half of the face portion of the mask; and the flange which surrounds the face and forms a support for the fringe of split leaves which are commonly worn with masks in Africa provides a makeweight for the towering headdress which would otherwise render the whole composition topheavy. This device is better carried out in the broader of the two masks, which is in other respects also the more symmetrically executed.

The vertical ridge which halves the central portion of the headdress carries upwards the strong line formed by forehead cicatrization, nose, and lips; the delicately pencilled eyebrows repeat the narrow curved slit of the eyes, and this soaring rhythm culminates above in the ridges which mark the upper outline of the side flaps of the headdress—the rhythm is varied somewhat in the setting at a steeper angle of these ridges, doubled, in the slenderer of the two masks. The forehead cicatrization, set closely between the eyebrows, repeats with its upper half and emphasizes the dome of the forehead, and, for the rest, fills interestingly the angle between the inner curves of the eyebrows. The red colour is applied with taste and skill to the outlying saliences of contour of the most interesting part of the composition, the face, emphasizing its ovalness, the blotch of red in the forehead space giving weight to this portion and bringing out the essential grace of the form of the whole, with its gently, not too fully rounded summit gradually reached from the slim taper of the chin.

The suavity of the modelling and the sophistication of conception of the whole design, though not really exotic to Africa, make of these masks a good starting point for the sympathetic observation of examples of negro art by those who might be inclined to view with less sympathy the commonly more direct and stronger effects of the same kind which are often reached by the negro sculptor through a perhaps less polished employment of exactly similar methods.

1Halle, 1898.

2Munich, 1923.

3New York, 1926.

4A Journey to Ashangoland, N.Y., 1867, p. 255.

5Op. cit., pp. 285-289.

6Illustration facing p. 289.

7P. 331.

8New York. 1856. Facing A. 265.

9Felichism in West Africa, London, 1904, p. 151.

10Ashangoland, pp. 260, 261.

11Op. sit, pp. 397, 398.

12Op. cat., p. 227.

13See the numerous illustrations assembled in Frobenius, Die Masken, from Cameron, Capello and Ivens, and M. Buchner.

14R. F. Burton, Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo, London, 1876. Vol. I, p. 101. See also Wilson, pp. 395-396, and
Frobenius, index, s.v. Nda.

15P. Daney, Sur les croyances des indigenes de la subdivision de Sindara (Gabon, A. E. F.), Revue Anthropologique, 1924, pp. 278-280; Leroux, loc. cit. 1925, pp. 320-321.

16Wilson, pp. 396-397.

17Nassau, pp. 261-263.

18Nassau, p. 260.

19Wilson, p. 388.

20Gorilla Land, p. 101.

21Ashangoland, p. 281.

22Op. cit., p. 81.

23P. 273.H.H. Johnston, George Grenfell and the Congo, ii, p. 641, quoting Torday and Joyce in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society, XXXVI, p. 291; R. H. Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa, pp. 71, 37, 57; P. B. DuChaillu, Ashangoland, pp. 181, 281, and passim; Daney, loc. cit., pp. 277-278; R. H. Milligan, The Fetich Folk of West Africa, pp. 123-124.

24Volkskunde von Loango, Stuttgart, 1907, pp. 183-184.

25Nassau, Fetichism, p. 222; Johnston, op. cit., pp. 646, 655; Milligan, p. 155.

26Frobenius, Masken, pp. 73, 74; pp. 80, 81, 85; H. Schurtz, Altersklassen and Männerbünde, p. 101; Daney, p. 279; Frobenius, p. 66.

27Ashangoland, p. 200, p. 35; Wilson, p. 394; Daney, p. 276; A. L. Bennett, Ethnographical Notes on the Fang, pp. 86, etc. Cf. Milligan, p. 236.

28Western Africa, pp. 311, 312.

29R. Andrea, Ethnagraphische Parallelen and Vergleiche, pp. 240, 241.

30Andree, p. 240; Wilson, pp. 311, 312.

31H. Ling Roth, Great Benin, p. 19, footnote; C. N. de Cardi, Juju Laws and Customs in the Niger Delta, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, XXIX, pp. 54, 55.

32A. B. Ellis, The Tshi-Speaking Peoples, pp. 48-49; M. H. Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, London, 1904, p. 364.

33Cf. Bouiti (Mbwiti, Bwiti), who dances on stilts and is covered with a white cloth. See Daney, and Ashangoland, pp. 313, 314. The Bwiti of the Ishogo is also a deputy of Mwanga, the indifferent chief god. Daney, p. 272.

34M. H. Kingsley, pp. 167-168; Daney, p. 275; Du Chaillu, pp. 106, 107, 101-102; Andrew Lang, Man, 1905, No. 31; Bastian, Die Verbleibs-Orte der abgeschiedenen Seele, Berlin, 1893, p. 57.

35Cf. MUSEUM JOURNAL, Sept., 1927.

36Article Masks in Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.

37Probenius, Plate IV, Fig. 39.

38Nassau, Fetichism, p. 219; Daney, p. 277; Johnston, pp. 663, 664; p. 653; p. 661.

39Travels in West Africa, p. 302; Daney, pp. 278, 279.

40Frobenius, in Verhandlungen der Lübecker Naturforscherversammlung, 1895, and in Die Masken, etc., pp. 199-200; Karutz, Zur westafrikanischen Maskenkunde, Globus, LXXIX (1901),p. 363.

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Hall, H. U.. "Two Masks From French Equatorial Africa." The Museum Journal XVIII, no. 4 (December, 1927): 381-409. Accessed June 22, 2024.

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