Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Dan Guerre Guere Mask Elongated Mouth and Figure on Top Africa

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Title Dan Guerre Guere Mask Elongated Mouth and Figure on Top Africa
Type of Object N/A
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia
People Dan or Guere-Wee(We)
Materials Wood, cotton cloth, vegetal fiber, leather, glass beads, iron nail
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 25 Inches
Width: 6.75 Inches
Depth: 11.5 Inches
Lips protrude 9 inches from face
Overall Condition Fair to poor. 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 Extensive wear, chips to the back

Additional Information: A very expressive face mask with exaggerate details. The mouth area is protruding far from the face of the mask, it wrapped with leather and the beard is also made from leather. The face has a pointed nose along with pointy cheeks, and a female figure on top. The surface of this mask shows significant traces of encrustation, which may come from ritual and ceremony, it also has a bite bar and a strap for the head that is rare to still be attached. This mask is identified as Dan mask, but it could come from the Guere or Wee people. We do not have further information on the exact use and meaning of this particular piece. It is truley wonderful and unique.

Representing a Ge, who is a spirit, this mask would serve as a visible symbol manifesting power, principles, and as a "spirit of the bush" to maintain social order, initiate the young and punish wrongdoers. They are used by the men's secret society called Poro-the enforcing arm of local authority.

Recommended Reading:

E. Donner: Kunst und Handwerk in NO-Liberiaí, Baessler-Archiv, xxiii/2-3 (1940), pp. 45-110.

Harley, G.W., Notes on the Poro in Liberia, Papers of the Peabody Museum, Archaeology & Ethnology, XIX, No.2 (Cambridge, MA, 1941)

G. Schwab: Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland, ed. G. W. Harley, Papers Peabody Museum, Archaeology & Ethnology, xxxi (Cambridge, MA, 1947)

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)

W. Siegmann and Cynthia Schmidt, Rock of the Ancestors, (Suacoco, 1977)

E. Fischer and Hans Himmelheber; The Arts of the Dan in West Africa, (Zurich, 1984)