Africa

A not so typical Dan mask

Dan
Dan

Q: Bought in Liberia in 1982 when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. Was among several that I bought from one of three Mandingos who came to my house in the Gola tribe area (just north of Monrovia and the Vai tribe territory) to show their masks to a few of us PCVs. The sale of this one mask was suspicious, because the seller did not want his colleagues to know that he had it. Could have been a ruse, but he looked genuinely fearful of his colleagues. I don’t think that he was supposed to be selling it. Dimensions: 11.5″ x 7.5″ X 3.75″ Now that I’m in my 50s and more ethically attuned, I would question the seller today!  Steve, 589

A: This is a good story.The style of the mask is basically Dan, an important culture in both Ivory Coast and Liberia. But it is not typical, particularly the mouth. Perhaps you could start looking for similar masks

and see if that leads to anything revealing.  B

2 Comments

  • leon

    Man area Bassa Liberia the book of mr Harley is great! Is it made of a soft light would (it isn’t heavy?) I have a similar peace darker black and larger with great patine inside and still i am not convinced it is authentic! don’t know about this one.

    grtz Leon or Madrason

  • leon

    Harley, George Way ;1950 google “Harley, George Way Masks as Agents of Social Control”.pdf ( in Northeast Li- beria). Papers of the Peabody Museum of American
    Archaeology and Ethnology, 32(2). Peabody Museum,
    Cambridge, MA. Liberia, West Africa. Photograph, Photo and Paper

    grtz Leon or Madrason

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