Q: I bought this unusual African mask from a local dealer. He told me it was about 100 years old and from the Ivory Coast. The seller said it was made by the Yaware tribe and used in ceremonies where the magician needed to enter a very deep trance. Apparently the lack of eye holes made that more possible. He also said it was very rare and he’d never seen one like it before. I’m particularly interested in the mouth with the sharp teeth. I’d love to find out what spirits or creature this mask represents and what ceremonies it was used for. I tried to google the Yaware tribe but came up with almost nothing. The mask has a peculiar, frightening aura about it. I’m guessing it might have been used to scare off evil spirits? Would LOVE to know more. Thank you for any information you can find. Carlo, 697
A: After searching there is little to tell. I could not find anything that looks like this. The Yaure people, also spelled Yaoure and Yohure, are a well known ethic group that lives in Central Ivory Coast, but typical Yaure masks look much different. Let’s hope someone will write in and help us with this. In the meantime you could try some of the specialists in West African art for an opinion. Good luck!
It’s a reproduction of a Dan Altar piece
Thanks for your comment. I Googled “dan altar piece” and found something that looked very similar at the Hamill Gallery in Boston. This begs the question– where would one find a Dan altar and for what is it used? I’ll bet Carlo would enjoy reading about that.