Jul 20, 2009
Jul 21, 2009

Face Mask

Face Mask

possibly early 1900s

Wood, metal, leather, and organic materials

Overall: 22.9 cm (9 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1972.331


A Dan face mask's use and the costume that accompanied it are important elements that contribute to the name it receives. While we don't know those details, we can say it originally had an elaborate fiber hairstyle attached through the holes around the edge. Based on its appearance and other similar examples, this face mask with a high forehead in northern Dan style may have been called either sagbwe or gunyege. As a "runner mask," it was engaged in running competitions once organized every Sunday during the dry season. As a "fire-watcher," its main task was to protect the village from fire when the dangerous desert wind called Harmattan blew during the dry season.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

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