Each is a composition all of its personal and it fascinates me that seemingly the most primitive works can have patterns which might be enigmatic, intriguing and as reductive as probably the most subtle summary artist who seeks to refine and outline by systematic mark-making. As the fabric is woven in strips and then sewn together, the design potentialities for a completed piece are infinite. Patterns are combined to convey the principles for proper conduct in the tribe and the necessities of the spirits that the masks characterize and are subsequently a robust type of communication. The Ndebele women of Zululand, NW South Africa have been decorating the walls of their homes and compounds for generations- a tradition calledukugwala which confirmed their design capacity as value of an excellent spouse. The other image shows an unusual painted circle design and adorned doorway from the Igbo tribe, circa 1960’s. Bold pattern both painted, embellished, carved or etched is a powerful and expressive component of African mask design.
Most patterns tend to be geometrical and symmetrical and infrequently present distinguishing marks for identifying whether or not the mask is male or female. The type of patterning on architectural ruins and remains can provide us vital insight into the constructing and the occupational historical past of a construction. Our major supply of historic information about African pattern and design comes from structure, decorated artifacts, masks and textiles.
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