Do you love the masks of Lotus Masks & World Imports and have a trip to Africa planned in the near future? If so, here are some tips for some great places to check out.
Africa is an extremely diverse continent, rich with varying cultures, arts, and histories. One of the most exciting studies to engage in is the research and visitation of African masks & African statues and their makers in West Africa. If your desire is not only to learn about these masks, but to see these African masks (as well as other African crafts) being created by master craftsmen, some of these sites are listed here.
Brikama Craft Market – The Gambia, West Africa
Situated away from the hub of tourist destinations, Brikama lies at a crossroad between the urban city of Banjul and the upcountry road leading to traditional villages such as Kanilai. With more than eighty carvers working daily (the market is open seven days a week), every visitor is likely to witness the carving of an African mask directly. The market is also home for many sculptors, jewelry makers and even local food vendors as well. Wood is often unloaded directly from the forests and Brikama is the site where the majority of the country’s woodcrafts and tourist souvenirs are created before being dispersed to the more localized hotel and market shops in the cities.
N’Dem Village and Workshop – Senegal, West Africa
Now part of a Fair Trade cooperative, dozens of individual artisans, seamstresses, and mask makers have formed a cooperative organization dedicated to the preservation of Senegalese and West African arts and crafts. In addition to African mask makers, calabash carvers and jewelry makers alike are part of this rural operation nearly three hours east of Dakar, Senegal’s capital city.
Grand Bassam Market – Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa
As the former capital, the city now has a feeling of a ghost town. The peace and quiet, however, stands as an ideal place for the preservation of indigenous arts and crafts. At the Grand Bassam market, for example, visitors can easily purchase everything from woodcarvings to African masks and sculptures, without the hustle and bustle of a bigger city such as Abidjan.
Centre for National Arts (Arts Centre) – Accra, Ghana, West Africa
Often referred to as simple the Arts Centre, Ghana’s thriving capital of Accra is home to one of West Africa’s most accessible places to the arts of the region. Hundreds of drum-makers, mask carvers, fine artists and musicians gather daily and perform live demonstrations of their skills to visitors. In addition, the Centre for National Arts consists of museum-like displays, where tourists and locals alike can learn West African history in a very hands-on way.
Bamako Craft Market (Marche Rouge) – Mali, West Africa
Situated amidst a junction between many grand ancient empires, Mali is a country fabled with rich history, especially in the arts and culture. The Marche Rouge is a modernized market, in which the hustle and bustle of urban life clashes with the ancient masks, sculptures and carvings of Bambara, Dogon, and other West African tribes. Across from the craft market lies a prominent fine art gallery, where local artists display their works before and after being put on exhibition around the world.
Can’t make it to Africa to find and purchase your own masks?…please browse our online shop with confidence that our masks come directly from the artisans themselves. Your purchase directly helps each artist. Browse our online store here.