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Africa Direct

Dan We Guerre Guere Mask with Monkey Liberia African Art

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Title Dan We Guerre Guere Mask with Monkey Liberia African Art
Type of Object Mask, carving
Country of Origin Cote d'Ivoire, or Liberia
People Dan / We , Wee, Guere
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Dimensions Height: 25 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Depth: 10 Inches
Overall Condition Poor
Damage/Repair Arrested bug damage, very worn patina, indigenous repairs, various cracks and chips

Additional Information:

This fascinating mask comes from the We, Dan, or Kran peoples. This mask features a chimpanzee-like face with very fearsome details including a domed forehead and concave face. A wise monkey figure on top adds to the dramatic expression of this mask.

This well-used example of We, Dan or Kran masks is an interesting piece with a strong symbolism. Its very uniqueness combined with its size and quality of carving argues for a place in a major collection. The mask shows signs of long use and excellent age. The masks of the We and Kran and their relatives, the Dan, continue to fascinate art-lovers around the world. This is a powerful mask that will be well placed in a collection. This mask belongs to the category of Kaogle and was traditionally associated with warfare. It was also used for judicial and educational ceremonies. Kaogle mask was also used as a dancing mask that served a number of functions in the Poro secret society. Masks like this are referred to as spirits. Today, like most masks still being produced in this territory, they are used primarily for the entertainment of both villagers and tourists.

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 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)