Nice Senufo Kpelie mask

Senufo Kplie mask
Senufo Kpelie mask

Q:  This is a mask I acquired at an estate sale, the owner of which appeared to be a mask collector. I was told that it is from Africa and that it is old but no other details. The mask is made out of wood which appears to have some age on it. It measures about 14″ long and 7″ wide. I would appreciate your insight as to the more specific origin and purpose/symbolism of this piece. The mouth of the mask particularly got me interested as to why it was designed that way. Very curious about your opinion of this piece!  Yuriy, 74

A: Your mask is called a Kpelie and comes from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast. These refined face masks represent women, are danced by men, and are usually associated with the Poro association. Called “Beautiful Lady” or Kpelie, they come with many variations, with rich and complex symbolism. Yours is especially nice. It’s designed very well and is carefully carved. But don’t get too excited, it’s a made-for-sale reproduction and is probably not as old as it looks.  A-

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