Alternative names
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Other Names for African Tribes
A tribal approach to African culture provides the most convenient way of understanding aspects as diverse as history, religion, art, agriculture, economy and dress. Africa has many tribes (more than a hundred in Zaire alone), and while, in some cases, the differences between tribes are enormous, in other cases they are quite minor or very subtle. Geographically close tribes influence one another in many ways. In masks these principles of similarity and difference also apply. At times it is impossible to tell from which of two neighbouring tribes a mask originates, at others the masks from neighbouring tribes may differ in almost every respect.
The tribal names below link to descriptions of the tribes and aspects of their culture with particular emphasis on their mask-making. A list (and thumbnails) of some of the masks made by the tribes follows, and from there you can link to large images and descriptions of the masks.
Some tribes are known by more than one name. We have tried to use the most well-known name as the main name in the list below, and have included alternate names in the column headed <Use this name>. We have tried to be comprehensive in the list below, however, we have been unable to include all the minor variations in spelling.
If a tribe is not generally involved in mask-making, we have excluded them from the list.
Tribe Name
look in this column for the name
Use this name
(click for description of the tribe or for mask illustrations)
Shown on map
(click to see map)
Abua Abua
YES
Ashanti Ashanti
YES
Babembe Babembe
YES
Babinje Babinje
Bachoko Bachokwe
Bachokwe Bachokwe
YES
Baga Baga
YES
Bajokwe Bachokwe
YES
Bakongo Bakongo
Bakota Bakota
Bakuba Bakuba (a kingdom, not a tribe)
See tribes in the Bakuba kingdom: Bushoong, Ngeende
Balega Balega
Baluba Baluba
YES
Balumbo Balumbo
Bambala Bambala
Bambara Bambara
Bambole Bambole
Bamileke Bamileke
Bamum Bamum
Bapende Bapende
Baoule Baoule
Bariba Bariba
Bashokwe Bachokwe
Basonge Basonge
YES
Basongye Basonge
YES
Batabwa Batabwa
Bateke Bateke
Batetela Batetela
Batchokwe Bachokwe
Batshioko Bachokwe
Baule Baoule
YES
Bawongo Bawongo
Bembe Babembe
Bena Kanioka Bena Kanioka
Bena Lulua Bena Lulua
Benin Benin
Bikom Bikom
Bini Bini
Bushoong Bushoong
YES
Chamba Chamba
Chokwe Bachokwe
Dan Dan
Dogon Dogon
Ekoi Ekoi
Esie Esie
Fang Fang
Fanti Fanti
Fon Fon
Gio Gio
Goemai Goemai
Guro Guro
Ham Ham
Ibibio Ibibio
Ibo Ibo
Ife Ife
Igala Igala
Igbo Igbo
Ijo Ijo
Ishan Ishan
Isoko Isoko
Jukun Jukun
Khota Bakota
Kissi Kissi
Kongo Bakongo
Kota Bakota
Kran Kran
Kuba Bakuba (a kingdom, not a tribe) See tribes in the Bakuba kingdom: Bushoong, Ngeende,
Kukuruku Kukuruku
Kuyu Kuyu
Lega Balega
Luba Baluba
Lumbo Balumbo
Lunda Lunda
Makonde Makonde
Mambunda Mambunda
Mangbetu Mangbetu
Mende Mende
Montol Montol
Nalu Nalu
Ngeende Ngeende (also see Bushoong)
Ngere Ngere
Nok Nok
Nupe Nupe
Oron Oron
Pende Bapende
Senufo Senufo
Sherbro Sherbro
Shokwe Bachokwe
Songe Basonge
Songye Basonge
YES
Tabwa Batabwa
Temne Temne
Tetala Batetela
Tiv Tiv
Urhobo Urhobo
Wongo Bawongo
Yoruba Yoruba