Fêtes des Masques: A Festival to Pay Homage to the Forested Spirits
Fêtes des Masques is Ivory Coast’s famous annual festival which holds in November. It features colourful competitions between villages in order to find the best dancers.
Fêtes des Masques is used to pay homage to the forested spirits embodied by the villagers who wear colourful costumes and fabulous, handcrafted masks (many handed down from one generation to another) during the festival.
Masks are the most important symbol of Dogon culture. There are various types of masks including those which protect against vengeance and masks which help pass on knowledge to the younger generation.
The Dogon perform these dances to help recount the story of the origin of the Dogon. Despite the fact that the Dogon have begun staging these dances for tourists, they remain one of West Africa’s most resilient cultures.
In the Bobo region of Burkina Faso, whenever there’s a major funeral – such as that of a village chief, which takes place six months or so after his death – it’s accompanied by a late night fete des masques which features Bobo helmet masks, as well as other types of masks.
Masked men dance to an orchestra of lute-like instruments and narrow drums beaten with curved canes. Each dancer, representing a different spirit, performs in turn, leaping and waving his stick and looking for evil spirits which might prevent the deceased from going to paradise.
The traditional music style of many of the ethnic groups of Ivory Coast is characterized by a series of rhythms and melodies that occur simultaneously, without one dominating the other, Music is used in many aspects of the culture.
Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, is a country located on the south coast of West Africa. Ivory Coast’s political capital is Yamoussoukro in the centre of the country, while its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea and Liberia to the west, Burkina Faso and Mali to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south.
Before its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. The area became a protectorate of France in 1843 and was consolidated as a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa. It achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993.