New World, The Caribbean, Haiti, ca. 1930s CE. An intriguing hand-carved wooden shamanic mask representing the Haitian Voodoo deity Damballah, the loa (or god) of the sky, the primordial creator of all life on earth, and the father to the rest of the Haitian deities. Damballah, also known as the serpent spirit, is symbolized by a pair of snakes surmounting a pair of flags. This mask, carved out on the verso for wear, shows the face of Damballah underneath a pair of scaled serpents who surround a second abstract head. The face is defined by wide coffee-bean-shaped eyes, a slender nose, puffy cheeks, and a gaping mouth, all covered in a black charcoal-based pigment meant to conceal the identity of the depicted figure. Masks like this were worn mainly as theatrical guises, though shamans would wear these to establish a greater connection with the gods. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 9.75" W x 13.75" H (24.8 cm x 34.9 cm); 18.375" H (46.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age and use, several stable hairline fissures, fading to black pigmentation and finer carved details, and areas of loss to top, eyes, brows, mouth, nose, and peripheries. Light earthen deposits throughout.