Gela mask of the No - Bassa - Liberia

The Bassas in African art premiere

Among the Dan, traditional masks are the bush spirits and not their representatives. Numerous in their diversity, the Dan masks are named Guégo, "mask head". The general term Glé (Gleu in the southwest) designating the entire character. Glé embodies the spiritual force that lives in the forest and wants to participate in the life of the village. The wearer of the mask and its owner enjoy a very high status in the hierarchy of the village.

Their appearance, during masked festivals, resolves conflicts that could not have been settled by the village chief. He who does not respect the masks commits a serious crime against his society and his religion. Dan masks are very hierarchical during ceremonies: some appear only to entertain the audience, others are silent or well endowed speech. The majority speaks and sings, their voices being able to be manifested by music. The detail of a classification approach established by JB Bacquart is available here Usually made in a very hard wood, they are polished with the leaves of a tree similar to sandpaper, then dyed in black using dyeing vegetable (latex, soot ...).

Round-eyed masks embody a feminine spirit, slit eyes a masculine spirit. Often, for the funerary masks the mouth is largely rounded, the mask singing the praises of the deceased. Older funerary masks have a normal mouth or stitch. Among the Dan Bassa, some peculiarities make it possible to differentiate them from other Dan masks. First of all in the case of masks called "Gela" like this one, an imposing and complex headdress, a pointed chin in "galoche", reproductions of scarifications. The Gela are the embodiment of beauty. Smaller than a human face they are intended to be hung on a larger rattan structure that will marry the dancer's face.

Origin : BelgiumDating : 1960'sSize : 44 x 20 cmMaterial : wood

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Mid XXth century
44 x 19 cm
Ethnic group
Ivory Coast
Tribal art collection France