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Yohure (Snan, Yaoure, Yaure), Côte d’Ivoire

Cereminial Yu mask. The best known masks of the Yohure, a small ethnic group inhabiting the central region of Côte d’Ivoire, represent human faces supplemented by some attributes, here by antelope horns. The Yohure masks are considered emblems of yu spirits; they have to be handled with extreme caution, and absolutely kept out of sight of women. These masks are worn predominantly on two occasions: the je celebration and the lo funeral ceremony. The first purifies the village after a death and helps the deceased's soul on its way to a final resting place. Women may not participate in funeral ceremonies, neither may they look at the masks, for fear that this encounter with death might jeopardize their fecundity. This means that before starting the village’s purification rituals related to a death, for prudence sake the women are gotten out of the way. With the aid of such masks, the people hope to influence supernatural powers, that can do harm to humans, but that can also ensure their welfare. The dances of masqueraders restore the social equilibrium of the community and accompany the deceased into the ancestral realm. The function of each specific mask is not rigidly fixed.

Material: wood

Size: 25”x 8½”x 3½”