Bete war mask

Ivory Coast, Africa
Ivory Coast, Africa

Q:  I bought this mask at the Tucson Gem Show African Pavilion about 7 years ago. I don’t remember where it came from, or if I was ever told. I think I paid $140.00 for it.  It is one of three of my favorite masks.  Ira, 750

A:  It doesn’t matter a whole lot what it is or how much you paid, if you really like it. I’m certainly glad you have it because its a beautiful example of a gre or nyabwa, which means war mask. The Bete people of Ivory Coast, West Africa, are famous for these grotesque carvings and use them for a number of different ceremonies. This one is especially well designed and crafted. You should be very pleased. This is a good example of why I encourage the collecting of traditional/authentic items, rather than the tourist/souvenir masks that are cheaper. A

One Comment

  • Ira Spector

    Sometimes, but not always tourist oriented masks are quite good, decorative, or meaningful.
    I’m thinking of the large collection of Papua new Guinea masks I own, Alaska, Aruba, Chile, etc;
    On the other hand In Japan they were terrible, and the only two masks I bought were from Bali.
    Mexican masks are so numerous in design and quality, that it may depend on the area where
    it is purchased. The best I got were from Morelia in Michoacan. Went to a village that only carved masks-no signs anywhere. Knock on the door and ask in Spanish if they had masks for sale.
    I bought several displayed on beds or the kitchen counter.

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