A popular mask from Ivory Coast

Senufo Kpelie mask
Senufo Kpelie mask

Q: We inherited this from my grandfathers estate. It was a gift to him from one of his traveling friends. He died in 1975, so it is older than that. No other info, just curious about it. I grew up calling him “Alfred” and have fond memories of it. Katie, 846

A: If you look at this blog’s “Africa” category, you will see many masks similar to this one. It is a Kpelie mask from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast, West Africa. Its design and decorations can vary considerably. It represents a female ancestral spirit that is an important character in Poro Society ritual. You can see two different Kpelies on page 22 of our new book, Masks of the World, which is now available on Amazon. Why they are more popular than other African mask styles that are equally artistic, I cannot say. This one is of moderate quality and was made for the tourist trade rather than actual use. B-

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