Goli Glen Mask

Ivory Coast

Carved wood and polychromy
Early 20th century
Height: 32 ½ in. (83 cm)

Ex collection Maurice Nicaud, Paris in the 1960s
Loudmer, Paris, “Arts Primitifs”, 14 May 1990. Lot 160
Ex Sotheby’s Paris, 15 June 2004, Lot 121

Yale University Art Gallery GvR Archive 0052596

Published in: AfriCubisme, 2018

Price: on request

Western Africa
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This spectacular mask is distinguished by its expressiveness and power of evocation. In terms of iconography, it combines the features of a bushcow, the horns of a gazelle / antelope and the snout of a crocodile. It is painted red, symbolizing blood, strength and power.
This Baule mask appeared during a ritual ceremony called Goli. Goli could be performed as an entertainment, for the funeral of important men, on the occasion of the new harvest or for the visit of dignitaries.
Goli was a day-long spectacle that normally involved the whole village and included the appearance of four pairs of masks including "Goli Glin", a male spirit, the father figure in the Goli family.
Though connected with supernatural forces, Goli played the role of the intermediaries between the world of the living and that of the spirits. They asked these spirits protection and assistance in case of external danger and war and during epidemics.

This highly stylized and dramatic mask is remarkably reminiscent of early cubist paintings of guitars by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, two great admirers of African art.