The 5th grade classrooms and 4/5 classroom have started a new project learning about the Ivory Coast. Some of our students remember a friend moving there last year!
There are more than 60 ethnic groups which means there are a lot of different cultures of people who live in the Ivory Coast but a lot of them participate in a special festival every year in November called Fêtes des Masques. Numerous small villages in the region hold contests to determine the best dancers and to pay homage to forest spirits who are embodied in the elaborate masks. Do the dance competitions sound familiar? The Baoulé, the Dan (or Yacouba) and the Senoufo – all known for their wooden carvings.
No one produces a wider variety of masks than the people of the Ivory Coast. Masks are used to represent the souls of deceased people, lesser dieties, or even caricatures of animals. The ownership of masks is restricted to certain powerful individuals or to families. Only specifically designated, specially trained individuals are permitted to wear the masks.
Ivory Coast people believe it is dangerous for others to wear ceremonial masks because each mask has a soul, or life force, and when a person’s face comes in contact with the inside of the mask that person is transformed into the entity the mask represents.
Create your own mask online here.
Check out a dance competition here!