Senufo Mask, Ivory Coast

Throughout the twentieth century, members of the powerful Poro society, a Senufo initiation association, wore elaborately carved face masks to signify their affiliation and their grades. The masks, known as kpeliye'e, feature tapered oval faces with layers of geometric and horned projections around their perimeters. Raised and incised scarification patterns ornament their surfaces. Considered feminine, the masks honor deceased Senufo elders with their grace and beauty.


The present mask shows the hallmarks of kpeliye’e carving, with a domed forehead, horizontal eye slits under arched brows,dramatically tapered chin, open mouth, and a number of flanges and horn-like structures framing the face. Atop the head is a prominent crest, studded with two vertical rows of points.

Early 20th Century
Wood, remains of string
Height: 13 ½ in; Width: 6 ½ in (34.3 cm x 16.5 cm)

JJ Klejman

Martin and Faith-Dorian Wright, New York City

Item Number:
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