An introduction to the ceremonial dance masks of the oceanic and african culture

These art objects were, and are still made of various materials, included are leather, metal, fabric and various types of wood.

An introduction to the ceremonial dance masks of the oceanic and african culture

See Article History Oceanic music and dance, the music and dance traditions of the indigenous people of Oceaniain particular of Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, New Zealandand Australia.

Music and dance in Polynesia and Micronesia are audible and visual extensions of poetry, whereas in Melanesia they are aimed more at spectacular display during times of life crises and as a part of secret-society rituals.

The arts of music and dance are often intertwined in these culturesand so they are presented together in this discussion. The leader, or Big Man, in many Melanesian societies is often a self-made man; he becomes a leader by creating followers, succeeding because he possesses skills that command respect in his society, such as oratory talent, bravery, gardening prowess, and magical powers.

These ceremonies occasion spectacular performances of music and dance as well as extraordinary displays of visual art.

See also art and architecture, Oceanic. There are basically two kinds of dance in Melanesian ceremonies: In the first type, the dancer impersonates mythical or ancestral beings ; the dancer-actor becomes someone else, and his attire is usually distinctly unhuman or supernatural—consisting often of huge masks and a full otherworldly costume.

The movements do not interpret recited poetry; however, the accompanying sounds of musical instruments may represent the voices of the supernatural beings. The second type of dance, that of participation, is often an extension of these dramatic ceremonies, as individuals who do not impersonate spirits often join in and dance with them, imitating the steps of the supernatural.

In dances celebrating head-hunting, warfare, funeral ritesor fertility—in which the entire community sometimes participates—the same movements are used, often to the accompaniment of drumming and communal singing.

The dances have a character of spontaneity and do not require long and arduous training. Their aim is not the simultaneous flawless execution of music and intricate movements but, rather, the creation of a mass rhythmic environment that might be characterized as a visual extension of rhythm.

If words are associated, they are repetitious and seem not to tell a story; they may even be unintelligible. Although the specific structure of any single dance tradition in Melanesia is not yet known, it seems probable that the isolated units of movement would be primarily those of legs and body.

History Of The Mask

Polynesia The entirely different world of Polynesian music and dance stands in contrast. Polynesian dance is a visual extension of poetry that uses chant or heightened speech as a vehicle for the praise and honour of high-ranking chiefs or visitors.

Genealogical rank is a distinctive feature of Polynesian societies, and music and dance pay allegiance to the rank-based sociopolitical structure, reflecting and validating the system of social distinctions and interpersonal relationships.

In these societies, where power resides in the office and the regime is long and enduring, specialists compose poetry, add music and movement, and rehearse the performers for many months before a public ceremony.

Effects of European contact Animal masks might actually represent the spirit of animals, so that the mask-wearer becomes a medium to speak to animals themselves e. Antelopes have a fundamental role in many cultures of the Mali area for example in Dogon and Bambara culture as representatives of agriculture.

Movements are primarily those of hands and arms, and interpretation is that of a storyteller. The dancers do not become characters in a drama, and their stylized gestures do not correspond to words or ideas as they do in literature-inspired dance traditions of Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

In Polynesia the dancer interprets a story orally, usually chanting or reciting metred poetry, and accompanies the words with actions. In addition, the order of the dances and the choice and placement of the dancers often supply further information about the social structure. The structure is known for at least three Polynesian dance traditions—Tongan, Tahitian, and Hawaiian—and the basic units of movement are primarily those of the arms.

The only Polynesian dance tradition, however, that has been thoroughly studied is the Tongan.

African Festivals and Events

Tongan dance is a visual extension of poetry and is closely intertwined with social organization. This sung poetry is a series of references to mythology, chiefly genealogies, famous scenic places, and contemporary events. The dances, which are performed either standing or sitting, interpret selected words of the text with hand and arm movements.

The distinguishing characteristics of Tongan dance are the emphasis on the rotation of the lower arm and the flexion and extension of the wrist, as well as a quick sideward tilt of the head.

The legs are used mainly to keep time with sideward stepping movements, and there is a marked absence of hip or torso movement. This dance is still performed today. An evolved form of this dance, which flourishes today, the lakalaka, is performed by men and women together in accompaniment to sung poetry only.

Solo and small group dances performed by one, four, or eight women often follow the large group dances and are more concerned with beautiful movements than with interpretation of poetry, although the same movements are used.

Translated Martin Travers

In the 20th century, Polynesian dances can be classified into six genresthree of which have survived from pre-European times. Micronesia Music and dance in Micronesia, though certainly not the same as their Polynesian counterparts, are closely related to them.

With the exception of Truk in the central Carolineswhich displays traits of Melanesian and possibly Indonesian influence, the music structure of all parts of Micronesia is predominantly word-determined, as is that of Polynesia.

Dance movements are mainly of hands and arms in accompaniment to poetry. In some islands, such as Yap in the western Carolines and Kiribatithere is a similar concern for rank in the placement of dancers, as well as the emphasis on rehearsed execution of songs and movements.

But, although movements and types of dance have a superficial similarity to those of Polynesia, there are differences. In the Yap empire, for example, dancers from Ulithi, Woleai, and other islands performed and taught their choreography and texts to the Yapese as tribute, even though the dance texts were in languages unintelligible to the Yapese dancers; the function of movements was not to illustrate a story but to decorate it.

Even in Ifalikwhere texts were in their own language, the movements did not interpret poetry but were apparently abstractly decorative. The same is true for the Kiribati.Port Manteaux churns out silly new words when you feed it an idea or two.

Enter a word (or two) above and you'll get back a bunch of portmanteaux created by jamming together words that are conceptually related to your inputs.. For example, enter "giraffe" and you'll get .

Masks have served an important role as a means of discipline and have been used to admonish. Common in China, Africa, Oceania, and North America, admonitory masks usually completely cover the features of the wearer. Some African peoples hold that the first mask to be used was an admonitory one.

In one version of the mask origin, a . The Leslie Sacks Collection of African tribal art is an encyclopedic microcosm of a continent’s creativity and a connoisseur’s eye. The mask would have been worn by a young man impersonating a marriageable young girl in a ceremonial dance.

Art & Antiques Magazine. A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes.

An introduction to the ceremonial dance masks of the oceanic and african culture

They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for . African Tribal Art has a significant and mystical history. A very important part of that history includes the traditional African masks. The African masks are an important part of African ceremonies, rituals, initiations, celebrations and secret communities.

The use of African masks typically includes song, prayer, and dance. Ewa Oceanic Art Gallery offers original, quality Ceremonial and Dance Masks from the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea. Sepik Mask - Resembling a creature such as a fruit bat, this is a very rare and unique mask.

Traditional African masks - Wikipedia