all photos by the author, except where otherwise noted

Masks have long been used in religious and communal ceremonies concerned with spiritual transformation, disguise, fertility rites, or amusement. They are usually worn over the face, but in some societies masks are worn on other parts of the body. For example, Gelede and Egungun masks of the Yoruba people cover the entire bodies of their wearers (Lawal 1996, Drewal and Drewal 1990, Adepegba 1984). Inuit women wear finger masks during storytelling and dance performances (Feinup-Riordan 1996). Similarly, among Efiks, Okpo masks allegorically shape the complexities of sexual maturity with full body masks (Figs. 1a–b). To Efiks, masks are cultural objects intricately woven with other aspects of their communal life.1 They view their world as a continuum, composed of the living...

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