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Masks and masking have comprised a significant part of the African world throughout history. Indeed, the mask is arguably the single most potent icon of African culture and identity. Like much of the surviving African culture, masking is an ancient tradition, but it has never become antiquated. It has undergone much adaptation and change while remaining stable in its essential form and structure. In North America, this tradition is highly dynamic and is strongly marked by elements of gaiety, spectacle, physical and technical development, and social commentary.

The practice of masking therefore possesses multiple significances for African cultural heritage throughout the African world. An association with spiritual beliefs and practice has not been completely effaced from the African masking traditions, particularly on the ...

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