Halloween at Isis- A Celebration of Masks

  • Date:31 - Oct - 2014
  • Time:09:00
  • Location:Asheville, NC
  • Venue:Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
  •  Buy Now

Tickets: $10 advance/$15 day of show
Available at or in person at 743 Haywood Rd. West Asheville.
Bruckshot opens the show

**BEST MASK CONTEST** Grand Prize=$50 bar tab

Our Halloween theme is inspired by the Fêtes des Masques (Festival of Masks), one of Côte d’Ivoire’s most famous festivals, which takes place in the region of Man on November 1st. Numerous small villages in the region hold contests to determine the best dancers and to pay homage to forest spirits who are embodied in the elaborate masks. Zansa invites you to wear your own mask and costume inspired by this theme of the spirit world, ancient legends, human/animal amalgamations, the origin of the world, and communication between the living and the dead. Read more about these traditions below.

Now, make no mistake. We are not trying to say that this Festival of Masks is some sort of African version of Halloween. It is not. These masked dances are very spiritual and are only danced by one special person in the village. These dances get passed down through generations, with the mask and the dance entwined as one. Some of these mask dances have to do with somehow communicating and connecting with the dead. This is our inspiration for the Celebration of Masks theme.

Here are some Ivory Coast mask traditions for inspiration…

Senufo Masks
Senufo masks are created by specialist artists who live apart from the rest of their village. Senufo masks combine features of animals and humans in a single design. The Senufo artists have a high status in their society as their masks and sculptures are believed to have the power to help communication between the living and their dead ancestors. Senufo masks are used in the rites of the Poro society, a male organization that educates young men in the traditions and responsibilities necessary for their coming of age. The Senufo worship their ancestors, particularly Kolotyolo – the ‘Ancient Mother’ who is holds so much power that she has to be carefully approached through intervention by lesser gods.The Senufo are a farming people of over 1,000,000 that stretch across various bordering countries in West Africa including the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso and South Mali.











Wabele Masks
The wabele mask is used in the initiatory organization Poro of the Senufo. The mask is a conglomerate of features from several animals including the horns of the bush cow, the tusks of the wild boar, the jaws of the crocodile, and the mouth of the hornbill. These characteristics display iconographic symbols relating to the origin of the world, important legends, and the importance of certain animals in fulfilling the ritual obligations of the living to nature spirits.

The power of the wabele is held by spirits until it can be granted to certain humans who are led by the Creator (Yiguevolo) to associate with nature spirits. When the spirits call him, he disappears for one to several months. At this time the individual is “taught” by the spirits. He returns as the initiator and then constructs a sanctuary outside of the village and arranges the accessories (costumes and magical substances) of the wa according to instructions of the spirits. In one sacred ceremony of the wabele, the mask is said to have the power to make corpses sit up in order to give them chewing tobacco. The Poro is a restricted society whose initiation is an introduction into adult society and a revelation of the mystery of life.