E0W9M968S.jpg (43534 bytes)E0W9M968.jpg (46105 bytes)We (Gere, Guere, Guere Wobe, Wee), Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire

Kpanhi face mask. The We population is estimated at 100,000. They live in the southwest of the forested Cote d’Ivoire and the southeast of Liberia. Rice, yams, taro, manioc, maize, and bananas are the primary crops grown. Farming and hunting have been largely replaced by laboring in the diamond camps or working at the rubber plantations. Confederations govern both ethnic groups -- the largest is the warrior confederation, which is led by a military chief, who also acts as a civil authority. The family units also play an important role in We social life. They are in fact two separate tribes – the Guere (also known as Ngere) and the Wobe – although they share numerous customs and beliefs. We initiation is not tied to Poro societies, as is the case of their many neighbors, but masks do appear at initiation. Performances also occur during funerals and for purposes of entertainment. Such performances also contain social and political commentary that serve to demonstrate to the community the wisdom of the elders. The present frightening mask represents kpanhi, or the dog-headed ape. In cases of conflict it served as the “great mask,” and when customs were violated it pointed out who committed the offense.

Material: wood, feathers

Size: H. 11”, W. 6”, D. 5 ½”