S3B9M398S.jpg (47675 bytes)S3B9M398.jpg (45673 bytes)Bassa (Basa), Liberia

Geh-naw ceremonial mask. The Bassa numbering just under 300,000 live in the middle of present-day Liberia. They practice shifting cultivation, with rice as the dominant crop in the interior and cassava more prominent near the coast. They are patrilineal and live in small settlements seldom numbering more than two hundred inhabitants. The Bassa have both men’s and women’s societies and practice both circumcision and clitoridectomy. Bassa artistic tradition has been strongly influenced by their northeastern neighbors, the Dan and has many similarities with the classical northern Dan style of idealized naturalism. Bassa carvers are famed for their two-planed gela (geh-naw) masks worn during the no men's society ceremonies when the wearer of the mask moves with feminine grace. With their graceful, gliding dances the geh-naw masqueraders entertain the spectators when initiated boys return from bush camp, when important guests visit the village, and on other festive occasions. The dancer wears the mask, which is attached to a woven framework, on his forehead, and looks through the slit in the fabric, which is part of the costume that covers his head and upper body. Because the masks are fixed on a framework, the interior of most such masks shows no signs of wear.

Material: wood

Size:   11”x7”x3”