West Africa, Liberia or Cote d'Ivoire, Dan peoples, ca. first half of the 20th century CE. An interesting tribal mask, hand-carved from hardwood, with an anthropomorphic face and an abstract zoomorphic snout. The face is composed of wide, slit-form eyes set beneath curved brows and a smooth brow, with contoured cheeks, and a crested nose bridge. The snout protrudes outwards with the elongated nose stretching on top, the narrow mouth situated in front, with several oxidized nails driven through the sides of the jaw to emulate teeth. With a carved-out verso and covered in a lustrous dark-brown patina, this is an intriguing example from the Dan peoples. Size: 12" L x 5.55" W x 12" H (30.5 cm x 14.1 cm x 30.5 cm).
The Dan people, who occupy portions of Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, produce masks for nearly every element of occasion of their society, including education, war, peace, and entertainment. Dan artisans, when crafting these masks, looked to the natural world for inspiration and would then go beyond that to create an abstract and stylized rendering. Such masks were created to connect the owner with a specific spirit that is believed to offer guidance and protection. 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 such masks during ritual dances and celebrations; they were typically kept safe in sacred huts when not in use.
Provenance: ex-collection of the late Peter Arnovick, San Francisco, California, USA
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Repair to lower periphery along verso with small chips and light adhesive residue along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, fading to pigmentation, minor nicks to snout, brow, peripheries, and verso, and some jagged edges to exterior nail heads. Light earthen deposits and great dark-brown patina throughout.