Fang (Fan, Mpangwe, Pahuin, Pamue, Pangwe), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon
Ngil ceremonial mask. The Fang number 800,000 and constitute a vast mosaic of village communities, established in a large zone of Atlantic equatorial Africa comprising Cameroon, continental equatorial Guinea and nearly the whole north of Gabon. The ngil masks are tied to the ngil association, which played judiciary and political roles among the Fang, assuring peace and hunting witches. These masks, whose apparitions in villages happened at night, had the task of punishing those guilty of vices and criminals. The characteristics of the face do not express a composed serenity, but in the deformation of anatomic characteristics reveal its superhuman and terrible character. This character is also reasserted by the use of white; for the Fang it is the color of death and of spirits. The accentuated vertical development of the mask is underlined by the long line of the nose. The masters of the ngil could travel from village to village without danger because their role as peacekeepers was recognized; they were considered particularly useful in combating sorcery and evil practices, and in adjudicating between clans and rival villages.
Size: H. 17, W. 8, D. 6