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African masks exhibited in Geneva

The Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva is showing "the other face" - the title of an exhibition of African masks.

The Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva is showing "the other face" - the title of an exhibition of African masks.

Some 250 masks made by over 100 ethnic groups throughout the continent are on display, providing an insight into a wide diversity of cultural tradition. They were worn for funerals, births, initiation rituals and had many other functions in community life.

The exhibition explains how dancers whose identity was concealed behind "the other face" were able to induce a state of trance after being possessed by spirits.

But above all it shows how African masks are regarded as art and as an influence on western art: many believe that the "Face of Atumbi", which comes from the Congo, served as a model for Picasso when he painted "Demoiselles d’Avignon."

The exhibition ends on September 15.

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