Masquerade costume

The Dogon people of Mali perform ceremonial dances dressed in striking masks and costumes. One such dance honours the dead: every morning and evening for up to six days, masqueraders dance in the village and surrounding fields – even on the deceased’s rooftop. Today, the Dogon also perform dances to entertain tourists.


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What is the meaning of the starburst shape at the centre of this masquerade costume and how does it relate to the use of the costume?

responded: Jul 27, 2012

Posted by VIC224Y - Intro to Material Culture Uoft

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The mask is extremely intricate and is the most colourful aspect of the entire costume. The front face of the mask is covered with a brown and beige braiding. This feature would make it difficult to recognise the face of the person wearing the costume. This aspect of the costume creates an element of mystery and ambiguity. The Senufo people of the Ivory Coast create masks that represent there link to the village as well as the wilderness. This is symbolised in there masks where there are animalistic and anthropomorphic components. I speculate that the masquerade costume may have been intended to resemble a lion. The Senufo people use masquerade to honour the dead as well as celebrate important rites of passage. Masqueraders usually embody ancestors who are returning briefly to the human world. When the performer wears the masquerade costume they become the figure whom the disguise is intended to represent, bringing it to life through his gestures, sounds and movements. The use of masquerade is a powerful and popular form of expression in Africa.

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