Early in his career, art historian Roy Sieber toured Ghana studying the country's indigenous art forms (Interview with Roy Sieber, "African Arts", Vol. 25, no. 4, Oct. 1992, pg. 48). Several years later Sieber's student René Bravmann returned to west central Ghana to study the region's masking traditions. This photo of masks taken by Roy Sieber is Included in René Bravmann's photo archives with the label "Do masks at Banda, R. Sieber photo, 1960s." Masks like these are used in masquerade dances to celebrate special occasions including weddings and public festivals such as the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. In his 1974 book "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (Cambridge University Press, pg. 166), René Bravmann notes that at the time of his 1967 fieldwork there were in the "Ligbi village of Bungazi [Bongase] six Do [masks]... Interestingly enough, only three years prior to my fieldwork , Roy Sieber recorded twelve Do face masks at Bungazi. My inquiries in 1967 revealed that five of the masks had been stolen and a sixth had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer usable." The masks pictured here (1964) may be among the Bongase masks that were stolen or deteriorated by the time of Bravmann's 1967 visit. Bongase, 1964.
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Wood carvings; Rites and ceremonies; Dance; Islam; Masquerades; Marriage customs and rites; Regalia; Masks
Two Ligbi men from Bongase appear in masquerade regalia during a visit to Bongase by René A. Bravmann, then a doctoral student at Indiana University studying African art history. They wear carved wooden "Mbong" (baboon in Ligbi) masks decorated with ochre and white paint, representing a male and female animal. Their heads and shoulders are draped in scarves. They stand in front of a house with a thatched roof and a raffia shade. Scholars refer to this masking tradition as "Do," while locally it is termed "Bedu." For additional details, see Bravmann, René A. (1974) "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (Cambridge University Press), pp. 147-177. A performance of Mbong at a Banda Heritage Event in June 2019 can be viewed through a link below. Bongase, December, 1967.