Dan passeport mask


Passport masks in African Art

A wooden mask displaying the refined carving of the Dan people and patina associated with ritual use. The face is an elongated oval in shape with a characteristic bulbous forehead. The small, round eyes are drilled through to allow the wearer to see out; a band of pigment or some other substance runs horizontally across the area of the eyes. The nose is short with flared nostrils and the mouth is diamond shaped with fleshy lips and slightly open. To the top and bottom of the mask is attached plant fibre that has been twisted and plaited to resemble hair and a beard.
Thes Dan people make masks that are perhaps some of the most iconic to come out of Africa. Aside from the larger, more well known examples, the Dan also make miniature copies of these. Like the Lega masks these are not meant to be worn on the face in the conventional sense of a mask. Instead, they are sewn to pieces of cloth and carried in a pouch. They are generally miniature copies of family masks and which allow a spiritual connection of the person carrying the miniature version with that of the parent mask. They are generally the property of one individual, and as well as conferring protection on the carrier they are also used in secret societies, where they are displayed when taking oaths or are shown to new initiates as part of the ceremonies. Offerings, in the form of food, have to be regularly made, as well as rubbing the surface with oil which gives them their distinctive patina.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
1st half XXth century
16 cm
Ethnic group
Wood, rope
Ivory Coast
Tribal art collection France

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