08 May Travel: Traditional Masquerades of The Gambia, West Africa
The Kankurang, Traditional Masquerade – The Gambia, West Africa
The Kankurang – a secret society of traditional masquerades – used in traditional Mandinka initiation rites, whose rituals can be seen all over The Gambia, and Senegal, West Africa.
We happened upon this scene, of a Kunkurang, whilst visiting old friends in a small village in The Gambia. I’ve been working with the HJF Gallery photographer, Jason Florio, on photographing these traditional masquerades for a number of years. However, it’s always interesting to happen across another version of the ‘Kankurang’, on our travels. Particularly, in the creative way that the boys use different kinds of materials to make their outfits. This particular masquerade costume was made of rice sacks, cut into strips, and stitched together. See more of our work on masquerades here
Despite the fact that the Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, the animist fuelled masquerade ceremonies pre-date the arrival of Islam and are still tolerated and practiced around the country. Animism is an intriguing subject. Based on the belief that animals and inanimate objects, such as trees, possess a soul, or a spiritual essence. Furthermore, the juxtaposition between the urban environment and these ancient traditions is fascinating to witness.
View Jason Florio’s ‘World Glance’ gallery – ‘Small Devil Masquerade‘ limited edition fine art photography prints are available in small-large format prints. Please contact the gallery for all print sale inquiries. Or, everything you need to know about buying our photography prints: Print Orders.
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Header image of the (red) Kankurang ©Helen Jones-Florio