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Grebo Mask 12 Tubular Eyes Projectiles Liberia African Art

Regular Price: $690.00

Special Price: $350.00

Product #: 110246
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Title Grebo Mask 12 Tubular Eyes Projectiles Liberia African Art
Type of Object Mask.
Country of Origin Liberia
People Grebo
Materials Wood, Pigment
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 40 Inches
Width: 8.5 Inches
Depth: 5.5 Inches
Overall Condition Fair to good. 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 Cracks and chips and general wear. damaged feathers

Provenance:  From the collection of Howard Gelb, St. Paul, MN collector of African Art, who was also a businessman, lawyer, and philanthropist. Mr. Gelb died in 2015, at the age of 96.

Additional Information: An interesting wooden face mask with a large face and twelve eyes or six tubular projectiles on each side of the face and a long nose that divides the face in two sections and a prominent mouth. The mask is painted in white with traces of  blue.  This delightful mask comes from the Grebo people. 

The Grebo live in southeast Liberia at the border with the Ivory Coast, with the Bassa people on their west and the Bete and We to their east in the Ivory Coast. Grebo masks are best known for their influence on early western modern art being found in the collection of Picasso who obtained a Grebo mask from his dealer Kahnweiler in Paris. There is no doubt as to the influence of the Grebo style mask upon the development of western art for they are a complete example of geometry in sculpture with the flat face, a long nose and tubular  projectiles. The startling geometry of this mask with the double lines of 6 tube tubes each, flanking the strong profile of the nose and protruding lips is indeed a tour-De-force of sculpture.

Little is known about the use of masks among the Grebo other than the fact that they are said to have been worn during wars by leaders as a kind of military costume. The masks were worn by the leaders of a warrior’s age set lead and terrify the enemy. Though not worn for warfare today they are worn at the funeral ceremonies of elders. This mask was worn on the face as seen in the eyeholes drilled on either side of the nose. In the past other larger Grebo masks were worn on the top of the head as a kind of helmet. This mask is indeed a great sculpture straddling the world of traditional African sculpture and modern art.

This is a good example of Grebo mask, beautifully designed. It shows signs of long use and would stand well in any collection.

Recommended Reading:

see: G.W. Harley, "Masks as Agents of Social Control in Northeast Liberia (1950) W.C. Siegmann and C.E. Schmidt, "Rock of the Ancestors" (1977).

Jacques Kerchache et al. ART OF AFRICA