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Dan Mask High Crest Cowrie Shells Bells Teeth African Art

Product #: 95457
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Title Dan Deangle Mask High Crest Cowrie Shells Mirrors Bells Africa
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast
People Dan
Materials Wood, Cowry Shells, bells, raffia fibers, unspecified animal teeth and hair;
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions 36 inches tall x 12 inches wide x 11 inches deep
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair worn fabrics, missing cowry shell; dirt and general wear; see pictures for details

Additional Information: This Dan Deangle mask is classic in its features with slim, closed eyes and a distant facial expression.  The face is painted in black, red and white.  The jawline is decorated with metal bells and the underside is tightly wrapped in a cotton fabric.  This mask shows signs of ritual importance and much handling.  This wonderfully decorated mask would stand well in any collection.  

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. When during a dream a male was instructed by 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. This mask, with its oval shape, used dark surface and bold carved features is called Deangle or Tangle. Thought to portray a female, 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 continuum in Dan cultural aesthetics and styles.

Recommended Reading: G. Schwab: "Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland," ed. G. W. Harley, Papers Peabody Museum, Archaeology & Ethnology, xxxi (Cambridge, MA, 1947) W. Siegmann and Cynthia Schmidt, "Rock of the Ancestors," (Suacoco, 1977) E. Fischer and Hans Himmelhaber: "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)