masks can be found to go way back past Paleolithic times. All made out of leather, metal, fabric and many kinds of wood. . They are amongst teh best creations in the art world. They are also wanted by art collectors. They can be found in museums annd art galleries.
They are used during celebrations, initiations, crop harvesting, war peace and trouble times. They are worn by a few chosen or initiated dancers. They can be worn in three different ways-vertically covering the faces, as helmets, enhancing the entire head , and as crest, resting upon ther head. They represent the spirit of ancestors. They are also ritual ceremonies , spirits of ancestors, mythological beings, good or evil, the dead, animal spirits, and other 's beleived to have power. Masks pf human are a family pride, because they are representing the spirits of a loved one.
During the dances, the dancer goes into a deep trance, and at this time they communicate with the dead. Someetimes these dancers will" become" the spirit they are visiting. They bring messages form the deceased person. They are just many times grunted and the person will say what they mean. These rituals are always followed by dances and songs and music.
These dances and ceremonies are still going on even now. Most of the peopel have lost some tribal idenity and culture, so ceremonies are not as common as they once were-hence the masks aren't worn nearly as much.
There are many masks that are still being made and they are being more for fun and a historical thing. They are being made for museums and people to admire. They are a beautiful thing to have and they are fun to see and know the history of. I found this information on http://www.rebirth.co.za/African_mask_history_and_meaning.htm