Ritual masks generally depict Gods, deities, Ancestor’s Spirits, Mythological beings, good and or evil spirits, the dead, animal spirits, and any other spirits believed to have power over humans. Many Spirits may be honored with ceremonies and gifts.
Tribal Masks can be traced back to well past Paleolithic times. Masks were, and are still made of various materials, included is leather, metal, fabric and various types of wood. The masks were part of full costumes and were used with music and dance in ritual performances for Protection, social control, education of the young, enhanced fertility or success, divination, status and entertainment. The figures usually depicted ancestors or spirits; most were venerated and offered prayers and sacrifices in exchange for protection and well-being. Some objects were felt to be magical and were believed to have great powers.
These spirits may be perceived via the carvings of the mask. Worldwide in drama and dance, masks are worn to enhance the story and to clarify the emotions being expressed. Always, masks intensify and heighten the experience, whatever the intention of the wearer of the mask is.