West Africa, Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, Dan peoples, ca. early to mid-20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden mask of a highly stylized anthropomorphic form known as a gunyeya (also gunye ge, literally "face mask") of a "bagle," an entertainer spirit who performs a myriad of dances and theatrical performances. The teardrop-form mask is carved out along the verso for wear and exhibits large circular eye sockets with spent brass 12-gauge shotgun shells set within. The face also exhibits a bulging forehead with thin brows beneath, a veristic nose above protruding lips, and rounded cheek bones, all beneath a serrated fillet gracing the upper portion of the forehead. Dozens of perforations line the periphery and enable a larger costume to be attached to the mask. Size: 5" W x 8.625" H (12.7 cm x 21.9 cm); 9.25" H (23.5 cm) on included custom stand.
The Dan people, who live in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire, produce masks for nearly every element or occasion of their society, including education, war, peace, and entertainment. In Mande, the Dan language, masks are referred to as "gle" or "ge," which is also the term for the supernatural beings who live outside the village and who can inhabit the masks during ritual practice.
Provenance: ex-private St. Petersburg, Florida, USA collection; ex-Dr. Peter Horvath collection, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1980s; ex-private old New England, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s
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Minor abrasions and nicks to face, forehead, and peripheries, with one stable hairline fissure on upper periphery, slight bending to brass shotgun shells and softening to stamped markings, otherwise intact and very good. Great brown patina with smooth textures throughout.