Kran Mask

Archives | Liberia

Kran Mask

Liberia

Liberia – Ivory Coast

Carved wood, pigments and metal
Late 19th or early 20th century
Height: 7 in. – 18 cm

Ex collection William Brill (1918-2003), New York
Inv # HKB2414

Sold
Far from the idealized naturalism of classical Dan masks, this mask (presumably a "kagle" face mask) is characterized by its highly cubist construction, and its distinctive projecting cheekbones and recessed triangular eye apertures.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Kagle masks are "troublemakers", meant to disturb village festivities with their erratic movements and agressive behavior. Intended to symbolize the brutal force of the bush and of savage, nonhuman creatures, the "troublemaker" is in fact a test of the solidity of social institutions. Its disruptive performance serves a social function by teaching the value of order and discipline through its negative example.

The deep patina and traces of libation attest to the great age and ritual nature of this mask.
This mask is published in the recent book "Masks of the We and neighbours", Adrian Schlag 2022 pl. 13
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