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Lot 288, Auction 5/30/2017: Dan Carved Wood Entertainment / Festival Mask

West Africa, Liberia, Dan, ca. early 20th century CE. A large, hand-carved wood festival mask with an articulated mouth and a red palette, tufts of brown wool/hair through perforations on the protruding upper section. The visage presents characteristic Dan traits: a concave face, high-domed forehead, openwork eyes, upturned nose, pointy chin, and protruding mouth. Festival masks like this example are typically somewhat obscured by other costume articles during performance, but here seen as a bare mask, we can appreciate the form. Size: 22" L x 8.75" W (55.9 cm x 22.2 cm)

Note the smooth surface and very dark patina on this piece, two signs of northern techniques. In addition, the central ridge in the middle of the forehead and slit eyes are traits typical of Deangle masks which are traditionally worn by an individual serving as intermediary between village and forest initiation camp. Festival masks like this example were used to fulfill the roles of warrior, adult, singer/dancer, and sacred spirit maskers.

Condition: Perforations at peripheries for attaching to costume or raffia. Expected surface wear and minor losses to wool/hair attachments. Inactive insect losses to interior of mouth.

Provenance: Ex-private Los Angeles collection

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