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African Masks photo
DEBUT 1979

The "Spirit" African Mask.

The African Masks are a quartet of tribal characters that were created especially for episode 314 of The Muppet Show, in which they perform the song "Turn the World Around" with Harry Belafonte.

Each puppet consisted of an expressive mask face, based as closely as possible on real African masks without treading on religious or national design motifs, and a puppet body dressed in traditional garb with necklaces and other adornments. Each African Mask also performed a percussion instrument.

The four puppets were performed, from left to right in the top photograph, by Jerry Nelson, Louise Gold, Richard Hunt, and an unknown performer. The four Masks, in the above order, respectively sung the verses about fire, water, mountain and spirit in "Turn the World Around," even though the puppets themselves had no discernable association with any specific elements.

The African Masks performed by Nelson and Gold also appear as "The Swahili Stompers" in the UK Spot for episode 412.

Although they have not been seen in any productions since The Muppet Show, one of the African Masks appeared on display at MuppetFest in 2001.


See also[]