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Art and Social Control

Centralized vs. decentralized societies Mbole People (DRC): Lilwa Society Ofika figures Dan People (Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire) Zakpei mask Ibibio People (Nigeria) Idiok Ekpo (the bad, ugly) Yoruba People (Nigeria): Ogboni Society (aka Oshugbo) Edan (staff); Onile ("owner of the house," the bronze figure)
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Name: Ofika figure for Lilwa Society
Culture: Mbole people
Region: Democratic Republic of Congo
Material: Wood
Description: Mbole are a small-scale society governed primarily by a men's voluntary association known as Lilwa. Lilwa initiates young boys secluded in the bush, and instills in them a respect for the authority of their elders, and of Lilwa, through strenuous tests of courage, and through the use of art. The Ofika figure represents a person who was hanged for going against Lilwa's rules--so it is meant to suggest to the boys what will happen if they disobey.
Name: Masks-- either Zakpei (puts out fires during dry season) or Gunyege (footracer)
Culture: Dan People
Region: Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire / West Africa
Material: Wood
Use: Dan may upgrade or downgrade a particular mask if found to be spiritually powerful. Cannot tell without full costume and performance exact usage for each one. Both of these examples may have been used for either purpose, or they may have changed use over time, if the spirit dictated.
Name: Masks-- either Zakpei (puts out fires during dry season) or Gunyege (footracer)
Culture: Dan People
Region: Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire / West Africa
Material: Wood
Use: Dan may upgrade or downgrade a particular mask if found to be spiritually powerful. Cannot tell without full costume and performance exact usage for each one. Both of these examples may have been used for either purpose, or they may have changed use over time, if the spirit dictated.
Name: Ekpo Idiok (policing masks)
Culture: Ibibio people
Region: Nigeria / Guinea Coast
Material: ?? Looks like wood and natural fibers
Description: Disfigurement refers to diseases thought to be punishment for immoral behavior. As agents of social control, it is important that the identity of the mask wearer is concealed.
Use: The frightening appearance is helpful for the kinds of tasks they perform--meting out punishment to criminals, collecting taxes, etc.