TRIBAL AFRICAN ART
WE (KRAN, GERE, GUERE WOBE, GWERE, NGERE WOBO, WEE)
Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia
Modern ethnology puts the Wobe and Guere together under the name We, despite the fact that the people themselves use the old names. The We population is estimated at 100,000. 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.
The art of Guere and Wobe people is stylistically connected and both groups are often collectively referred to as We, meaning "men who easily forgive." Like the Dan, the We use a wide variety of masquerades, which hold important regulatory position within their small, egalitarian communities. Masks are owned by families and used by individual lineage members in contexts of social control, boys circumcision camps, and entertainment. Most We masks were created to frighten with the gaping jaws and tubular eyes. The style of these forest living people differ from the sophisticated, gentle and often refined art of the neighboring savanna-dwellers. We people produce a variety of masks often characterized by enlarged triangular nose, an open mouth and tubular eyes. We statues are rare.
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