Apart from the observance of ancestral devotion, a rite of passage ceremony for boys is celebrated by the Mandingo tribe from Western Africa. The special attributes desired by these boys, on reaching adulthood, are carved out on wooden masks.
Making African Masks
African masks can be made from materials such as fabric, wood, metal, etc, and is a popular kids' craft activity. Simple tools are required in the preparation and the decorative items needed are generally inexpensive.
For making the masks, you will need 12 x 16 inches poster boards, pencils, erasers, paper for sketching, scissors, tapes, glue sticks, beads, buttons, color paper scraps, feathers, colored markers, etc.
While making them, one should maintain the symmetry. The shape should be traced on the poster board and cut appropriately. Holes for eyes and mouth need to be cut; the symbols and attributes that one wants to draw need to decided beforehand.
As stated earlier, they are symmetric in shape and the patterns/designs presented on them should also be symmetrical as well. Designs created on paper should be used to embellish them. Once they are ready, holes need to be punched on the sides in order to tie the elastic strings.
Paper Mache African Masks
To make a paper mache mask, one would require materials such as newspapers, old files/folders, grocery bags, tape, white glue, pencil, knife, varnish, acrylic paints, and decorative items.
The first step in the process is to make an armature. A few newspaper sheets need to be balled up and tape should be wrapped around it to create the desired shape. Paper strips should be made by tearing them from a newspaper.
The glue should then be mixed with lukewarm water to make a paste. The newspaper strips should be dipped in this paste. These wet strips need to be stuck to the armature that has been created. Four layers of the strips would make the design strong and hard.
The masquerade should then be dried for 24 hours. Once it dries completely, brown-colored paper strips cut from the grocery bag should be applied to it. Lastly, it should be decorated and painted.
The African style animal masks are quite popular among children. The basic procedure for making them remains the same. One can also create variations in the form of decorations and embellishments. Thus, this activity would be fun-filled and very creative for the kids.