Historically, African masks were only to be worn by chosen or initiated people for special ceremonies related to such important events as war preparations, harvest, funerals, or hunting. Masks are believed to embody the spirit of an ancestor, and symbolize a message of wisdom, prosperity, security, and power. Carvers undergo many years of specialized apprenticeship until achieving mastery of the art. This is important to Novica master carvers, who proudly mention it in their biographies, for it means they have earned the honor to replicate ancestral masks, as well as to create original designs.
Novica's extensive African Masks collection includes the work of talented master carvers such as George Asante, who chose to go to the Akuapim hills for his apprenticeship. He specializes in Ghanaian tribal masks, such as Ewe, Akan, Aburi, as well as Nigerian masks. Carver Walter Kuma has always been passionate about African artistry, which is why he became a master carver. His masks personify his pride in his country's traditions, and he hopes to instill that same passion in those who now apprentice with him. Daughter of a renowned master carver, Ellen Akosua Amoako is one of the few women in Ghana to be successful in a traditionally all-male art form. She masterfully replicates the unique stylizations of the Ewe tribe (Ghana), as well as the Senufo (Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burkina Faso), and Grassland (Cameroon), amongst others.