N5D7M917S.jpg (43045 bytes)N5D7M917.jpg (57530 bytes)Dan (Gio, Gioh, Gyo, Yacouba, Yakuba), Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia

Gigantic ceremonial mask. All Dan masks are sacred; they do not represent spirits of the wilderness, they are these spirits. The mask is the channel of communication with the high god Zlan. The intermediaries in these communications are the spirits of the ancestors who are invoked through the mask. There are a variety of Dan masks, each of which has a different function. They may be the intermediaries, who acts between the village and the forest initiation camp, may act against bush fires during the dry season, used in pre-war ceremonies, for peace-making ceremonies, for entertainment. Over time, many among them have lost their original function and have been recycled into contexts related to entertainment, emerging only for festivals or events organized for visitors. Nonetheless, the great masks live on, their even more rare appearances being reserved for times of tension, when it is important they may exercise their role of social control and their faculty to reduce conflict or settle legal wrangles. Masks of this type were used by the Poro secret society. This gigantic mask was apparently created for some special ceremonial purpose.

Material:  wood, vegetable fiber, textile, cowrie shells

Size:  H.27”, W. 13 ”, D. 8 ½”