As the respect of past ancestors is an imperative element of nearly all African customary cultures, it is common knowledge that the departed persons must form part of the subject represented in the masks (DeLand 508). Masks symbolizing the ancestors are usually shaped like the skull of a human being. Dan and Senufo are basically human skulls with closed eyes symbolizing the dead. It is arguable that these two pieces of art are a special category of African ancestor masks made as a tribute for prominent persons who made significant impacts in the history of the communities. Dan Masks and Senufo Masks are an important part of traditional African masks with rich meanings behind the fine artworks as seen from an outward appearance.
Materials and form
The African masks are commonly made of wood, however light stones and metals, fabric, and ceramics have also been used. A number of masks were decorated with ochre and or other naturally existing dyes. Other decorations such as projections and carvings have also been used particularly on Senufo and Dan masks. The end result is African masks being shaped like the face of a human being or some muzzle of an animal, though, presented in a clearly abstract form. As Russell has indicated, the commonly used abstract form of a number of African masks and other genres of art is due to the fact that members of the local cultures can easily read the hidden meanings (12). In most cases, the interpretation of the coded message is the main reason behind the creation of the items.