West Africa, Ivory Coast / Liberia, Dan, ca. early 20th century CE. A magnificent and large carved wooden Dan mask, its visage characteristically concave with a high domed forehead, slit eyes, dramatically defined cheekbones, an elegant nose, parted lips, and a pointed, jutting chin. This example also presents a crested hairline and perforations around the periphery for attaching ornaments or the fabric of a costume. The Dan people, who live in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, produce masks for nearly every element or occasion of their society, including education, war, peace, and entertainment. In Mande, the Dan language, masks are referred to as "gle" or "ge", which is also the term for the supernatural beings who live outside the village and who can inhabit the masks during ritual practice. A wonderful Dan mask, one of the most important forms of visual culture created by the Dan peoples with an attractive patina that has developed over the years. Size: 11" H (27.9 cm); 17.5" H (44.4 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private Omer Claiborne collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; acquired over the last 40 years
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