Dan / We-Wobe
Mask

Africa | Northern Liberia

Dan / We-Wobe
Mask

Northern Liberia

Wood and pigments
Early 20th century
Height: 10 ¾ in. (27 cm)

Ex collection Paul-Louis Modeste, France
Ex collection Guy Montbarbon, Paris

Published: Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale 2022
Elephant mask Liberia 27 cm / Galerie Flak Price on request
This is an exceedingly rare type of mask from the Dan or neighboring peoples of Liberia. There is little direct evidence of the meanings and uses of such masks, but they were presumably used by members of one of the secret societies in charge of magical medicines.
The construction and power of evocation of this mask are remarkable. This « surrealist » mask, half-human and half-elephant, features a trunk transforming into in a human hand and curved tusks encircling the mouth. The deep, encrusted patina attests to the great age and ritual nature of this superb mask.
Very few examples of this type of masks are known. A very similar mask from the collection of Charles Ratton appeared in Alain Resnais's landmark art film Les Statues meurent aussi in 1953. The mask presented here was field-collected by Paul-Louis Modeste, a former French colonial administrator in Côte d'Ivoire.

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