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Dan Mask Beard Amulets Liberia African Art

Regular Price: $1,575.00

Special Price: $1,375.00

Product #: 113809
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Title Dan Mask Beard Amulets Liberia African Art
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire/Liberia
People Dan
Materials Wood, vegetal fibers, cowrie shells, glass beads
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 9 Inches
Width: 7 Inches
Overall Condition poor
Damage/Repair very encrusted, some possible repairs. cracks, dirt

Additional Information:  A charming mask with unique design and significant age.  The trader indicated that the mask is Dan, from Liberia.  Some of the facial details suggest this, with a rim of cowrie shells over the forehead and slit eyes.  

The Dan, historically a warrior people, are thought to have been in the Ivory Coast area for perhaps two thousand years, though the evidence for this is scant. It is known however that the Dan were heavily preyed upon by slave raiders in the 17/18th century, and the creation of Liberia in 1847 was marked by the repatriation of large numbers of them. These returning ex-slaves eventually outnumbered their relatives in the Ivory Coast, and that is still the case today. The Dan have no centralized government, and each village is relatively autonomous. The ability to accumulate wealth and prove one's ability are highly prized by Dan society, and the belief is known as the "tin." This social system still exists today, though the ways to gain wealth and prestige have changed, from prowess in agriculture and hunting, to success in the diamond mines and rubber plantations.

Recommended Reading:

Harley, G.W., Notes on the Poro in Liberia, Papers of the Peabody Museum, Archaeology & Ethnology, XIX, No.2 (Cambridge, MA, 1941)

Harley, G.W. Masks as Agents of Social Control in Northeast Liberia,  Papers of the Peabody Museum, Archaeology & Ethnology, xxxii, No.2 (Cambridge, MA, 1950)

E. Fischer and Hans Himmelheber; The Arts of the Dan in West Africa, (Zurich, 1984)

E. Fischer; “Dan Forest Spirits: Masks in Dan Villages”, African Arts,  II, no. 2, 1978.  pp. 16-23, 94