Compare and Contrast "Ceremonial Dance Masks of the Oceanic and the African Culture".

Essay by terreCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2002

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"Ceremonial Dance Masks of the Oceanic and African Culture"

Ceremonial headresses are a spiritual symbol of the cultures of both Oceanic and African people. Though the 20th century dance masks of each culture are similar in that they are both painted wooden stylistic representations of a human head, they differ in their use in rituals and in their nature as a cultural icon.

The Oceanic Dance Mask Headress from Siassi Island off the north coast of New Guinea, is believed it's purpose was to protect members of the island's secret society, the spirit punished those who broke the laws of the same society. The Oceanic people were known for headhunting, embracing the Meso-American ideology and concept of self-sacrifice resulting in culturalistic warfare and human sacrifice. The Dance Mask Headress of the Siassi people may have been worn during this ritual.

The African Zoomorphic Dance Mask of the Bobo culture from Burkina Faso in West Africa was worn as an ornament in ritual ceremonies by powerful important people of the tribe.

The African people were and are predominantly Christian and Muslim, believing in one all powerful god. But early African people believed in benevolent magic and sorcery. They believed nyame; all pervasive energy, could be transfered from one object or person to another by means of ritual. The ceremonial Dance Mask of the Zoomorphic people may have been incorporated in this ritual. There is also a suggestion of ceremonies of brotherhood, or many African cultures were known to have ceremonies of maturity, as in a boy becoming a man, similar to the Jewish tradition of Barmitzvah.

Both dance masks are made from wood and painted, but the ornamentation of the Oceanic mask has feathers that form a plume-like structure coming from the top of the mask. It also has a...