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Dan Mask Deangle Cowrie Shell Hood Liberia African Art

Product #: 114055
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Title Dan Mask Deangle Cowrie Shell Hood Liberia African Art
Country of Origin Liberia
People Dan
Materials Wood, pigment, animal hide, cotton fabric, cowrie shells, raffia fabric
Approximate Age mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 10 Inches
Width: 7.5 Inches
Depth: 8.5 Inches
Overall Condition fair
Damage/Repair hood is torn and ripped in several places. stains, scrapes, chips

Additional Information:  A beautiful mask with the famous protruding lips of the Dan carver.  The pointed tongue adds to the mystery expression of this mask. This mask retains all the qualities of a beautiful carved mask from this region.  The features are beautifully sculpted with attention to the detailing of pierced eyes, fine nose and prominent mouth. And the mask is surmounted by an ornate and decorative hooded headdress.  

This mask is called Deangle or Tangle.  Thought to portray a woman it dances in a style thought to be feminine, with gliding steps and graceful movements.  Deangle dances for all to see as ‘she’ entertains and instructs the village in peaceful pursuits. Each Deangle mask reflects the skill of the artist and taste of the patron and while local variations occur there are long established criteria for Deangle that reflect a long standing Dan cultural aesthetics and styles. 

The Dan in the past lived in small villages and towns ruling themselves through a complex arrangement of family lineages, men’s secret societies and various initiation ceremonies. Famous for their masks the Dan believe that spirits of the wild known as Du manifest themselves in masks and masquerades to humans instructing and sustaining them in life.  Famous for their masks the Dan believe that spirits, known as Du, live in the untamed forests and manifest themselves to humans in masks and masquerades instructing and sustaining the Dan in life.  When during a dream a male was instructed by a Du to dance a mask, he would commission a carver to make a mask for him.  Among the Dan, masks are grouped in an assortment of forms with different duties assigned to each.  

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)