Last week, I found myself in a house with this intriguing wooden mask on display. It was about 17 inches high, 9 inches wide, and 7 1/2 inches deep. I know very little about African masks, but to my untrained eye it looked to be old and authentic. It had been carved quite thinly and still retained remnants of a woven web in the back that would secure it to the wearer’s head. I had enough time to sit and make a sketch of it.
The experience reminded me of a documentary I had seen awhile back, part of which explores the way that the Dogon people of Mali carve masks. There are many interesting scenes and thoughts in the ten-minute clip below, ranging from the respect shown for the tree to the importance of context in understanding such objects.
Check out the precision work performed with the adze as well as the other techniques demonstrated in the making of these beautiful and meaningful examples of greenwood carving.