Africa

The price of African masks

Dan, Ivory Coast
Dan, Ivory Coast

Q:  Bought this at garage sale..it looks and feels old and authentic. Made of wood and fabric and shells.  Robbie, 717

A:  One African art dealer calls this is a Dan Deangle mask from Ivory Coast in West Africa and goes on to say thatForest spirits play an important role in Dan culture. Initiation rites take place in the forest with a female mask used to embody the gentle, nurturing aspects of the forest spirit. The word “deangle” refers to the feminine character of the mask, with its slit eyes, full lips, and central ridge down the forehead. These are considered to be ideal elements of feminine beauty by the Dan.”

The well respected Hamill Gallery in Boston has one with the caption “Dan Mask, 20-in high.  Despite its appearance, this Dan headdress shows no evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold. Photographs © Tim Hamill”

Like the Hamill mask (the one below), Robbie’s was probably artificially antiqued, but it was done quickly by a less skillful craftsman. I like both of them… but I would rather own the one from Hamill. Incidentally, if it could be proven that it was used in ceremonies by the Dan, at auction it might go for much more! Check it out at http://www.hamillgallery.com   C

One Comment

  • Quincy

    I appreciate your comments. I have some pieces I’ve purchased via the Ebay market. I’ve done my best to try to authenticate them (signs of age, use etc.). I haven’t much disposable income to spend what I’d like (increased cost being another “subjective” factor) but what I have seems authentic (in-culture used). I haven’t spent more than $2-300 for a mask. Are my pieces likely not authentic based upon price alone? And If possibly authentic even at this price range what drives low prices in the market?

    Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *