Dan Diomande Mask

Ivory Coast

Carved wood, plant fiber coiffure
Early 20th century

Height: 12 ½ in. (32 cm)
Length: 14 ½ in. (37 cm)

Ex collection Marie-Ange Ciolkowska, Paris
Ex collection Francis Mazière, Paris
Ex Christie’s Paris, June 12th 2003, lot 369

Yale University Art Gallery GvR Archive 0049555

Published: Parcours des Mondes 2016

Price: on request

Western Africa
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Magnified by a braided hairdo that is remarkable in it fullness and complexity, the refined features of this mask represent an idealization of beauty.
The elegance of its lines and its balanced composition identify it as belonging to the great classic art of Ivory Coast.
The three longitudinal bands framing the outline of the face – scarification motifs indicating nobility – are proof of the stylistic influence of the Diomande people, neighbors of the Dan.
As Bruno Claessens notes in « Thoughts on Two Dan-Diomandé Masks », 2013), these masks did not depict ancestors, and neither were they portraits. Instead, the masked performers impersonated supernatural beings and were a concrete representation of the power which connected the living with the supernatural world.
The Musée Barbier-Mueller (Geneva) possesses a similar mask, one that also still has its original coiffure (inv. 1003-14).