Ritual and ceremonial masks play a major role in various African Cultures. The specific implications associated with ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, while some traits are common to most African cultures. Masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning, thus are used in ritual dances, social and religious events. A special status is attributed to the artists who create masks and to those who wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.
African masks, one of many elements of great African art, obviously influenced European and Western art in general in the 20th century, such as cubism, fauvism and expressionism.