Dan (Gio, Gioh, Gyo,Yacouba, Yakuba), Côte dIvoire and Liberia
Spouse Figure. The
350,000 Dan occupy the wooded savannah region of western Cote dIvoire and the east
of Liberia; one also finds a few Dan villages in southeast Guinea. Traditionally
cultivators of rice and manioc, the Dan also work immense cacao and coffee plantations.
They also live off game hunting and fishing. Every Dan village is under the authority of a
chief and a council of elders. Dan artist have carved freestanding figures of important
women. These female figures were commissioned by
powerful chiefs as three-dimensional portraits of their favorite spouse. They
were prestige items, and Dan owners charged fee to visitors who wished to see them. Even
though these portraits were carved primarily for the aesthetic pleasure of their owners,
they share the styles of masks and spoons, sacred objects housing supernatural beings. These statues are kept hidden inside houses and are only
revealed during important occasions.
27½, W. 9½, D. 6