Bete Mask

Africa | Ivory Coast

Bete Mask

Ivory Coast

Carved wood and brass
Late 19th or early 20th century
Height: 11 in. – 28 cm

Ex collection Olivier Castellano, Paris
Published: “Masks of the We and neighbours”, A. Schlag, 2022

Bété Mask 28 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
"The Bete are a farming people living in the southwest of Ivory Coast. Only the western territory of the Bete bears witness of a masked tradition that is inspired by the models of the We. Masks were used by the gla society and transmitted through the neighboring Nyabwa." (L’autre Visage, Masques Africains de la collection Barbier-Mueller, Ed. Biro, 1997).
Serge Schoeffel notes in Masques Bete, 2013, that the first study on the Bete is published by E. Dunglas (Coutumes et mœurs des Bété, Paris, 1939), but the author makes no reference to the existence of masks or sculptures. In 1962, Denise Paulme, head of the Department of Black Africa at the Musée de l’Homme from 1937 to 1961, published an account of an in situ study on the Bete which had taken place in 1958 (Une société de Côte d'Ivoire hier et aujourd'hui : les Bété, 1962, p. 134). She is the first to mention the existence of masks: “... we were assured that the masked dancers who execute a few steps for the lifting of mourning, or who appear at Daloa for official festivals, played a role in war sorties in former times. A mask with a most terrifying appearance was kept at the exit from the village, barring departure to those who might flee. It was also the first to greet returning victors, and preceded them in their triumphal homecoming. The masks apparently also played a part in the festival which marked the reestablishment of peace between two villages. The institution has now fallen into disuse ...” Bété warrior masks impress with their terrifying face, materializing the hostile forces of the forest
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