African Masks: Tool of the Past and Art Inspiration Today

African masks can be found in museums and households worldwide. Leveraged as a connection to diaspora, African masks are a direct cultural signifier but they also have a deeper cultural significance others may not know. 

Traditionally masks were used during ritual dances, while others were taught to hold spirits of ancestors. These ancient masks were made primarily of wood and traditionally adorned with raffia and oils to give the masks luster. 

Today African masks are seen and used as art since western religion has caused many traditions to fade. Today people of color buy African inspired mask art to connect to African culture. 

Inspired African masks are sold by street vendors in large cities and even beaches in the Caribbean as souvenirs. Ancient African Masks sit as history in museums throughout the west from the MET in New York City to Weltkulturen Museum in Germany.

African masks have inspired the work of artists like Basquiat and even Picasso. They continue to be motivational for pop culture and art globally.