Dan mask, Liberia or Ivory Coast

Dan masks are embodiments of gle or ge, spirits who wish to communicate with and aid human communities but who lack a physical form. Materialized in dream-inspired masks, they attain their desires through the medium of masquerade. The mask presented here is of an iconic type referred to as dean gle. It is host to a benevolent spirit that seeks to teach and nurture, supporting peaceful activities in the village. Dean gle is technically genderless, though its qualities of idealized beauty and gracious beneficence are often thought of as feminine by both the Dan and outsiders.
This example demonstrates the classic dean gle composition, with an oval face tapering down to a narrow chin, slit eyes horizontally bisecting the face within a lateral depression, and a slightly open mouth with full lips. A vertical ridge in the center of the brow reflects a historical tattoo practice among the Liberian Dan. Around the perimeter of the forehead are pierced a row of holes by which a coiffure of fiber or shells would have been affixed.
Some loss to the rear right side of the mask. Small repair to left eye. Comes wih a custom base.

Late 19th / early 20th century
Height: 9 in; Width 5 in

Karob Collection, Boston, MA

Item Number:
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