|Title||Dan Bird Mask with Beak Liberia African Art|
|Country of Origin||Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia|
|Approximate Age||Mid 20th century|
|Dimensions||Height: 8.5 Inches
Width: 4.75 Inches
|Overall Condition||Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.|
|Damage/Repair||Worn pigment, general wear|
Additional Information: This small mask continues the motif of birds and bird beaks in Dan art, although it's features are unique. It is a cross between man and bird, with human eyes, but a ridged beak instead of lips and tongue. Adorned with an attractive, dark patina and painted red inside the mouth.
The Dan people, who live in Liberia and the Ivory Coast, are governed largely by secret societies. The Leopard Society acts as a major regulator of Dan life, and initiates young men. Famous for their masks, the Dan believe that spirits, known as "Du," live in the forests and manifest themselves to humans in masks and masquerades, instructing and sustaining the Dan in life. Thus masks are used as agents of social control. Among the Mau masks with hornbill horns are used in the man's association, Koma. And are said to represent the spirits of bush called to establish order and are intended to exert a certain social control and chase away evil forces.
Recommended Reading: 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 B. C. Johnson: "Four Dan Sculptors: Continuity and Change," (San Francisco, 1986)