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Dan Deangle Mask Cowrie Shells Rattles African Art

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Title Dan Deangle Mask Cowrie Shells Rattles African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire or Liberia
People Dan
Materials Wood, Cowrie Shells, Cloth
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 15 Inches
Width: 10 Inches
Depth: 6 Inches
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair Cracks, chips and a well worn patina

Additional Information: This Dan Deangle mask is classic in its features with slightly closed eyes with a cool distant look, and a large expressive open mouth. The face is surrounded by a complex costume designed to enhance her appearance. The cowry shells are attached to rolled raffia representing a ceremonial headdress, surrounding the lower part of the mask raffia and cotton cloth complete her costume. This mask shows signs of ritual importance and much handling.

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)