Face Mask

Face Mask

early 1900s

carved by Sabarikwo of Ouazumon

(African)

Wood

Overall: 31.6 x 16.7 x 11.4 cm (12 7/16 x 6 9/16 x 4 1/2 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1989.48

Description

Face masks like this example are most typically worn during initiation and funerary rituals of a poro association, an age-based organization with religious and sociopolitical responsibilities. Though only worn by men, the masks have facial characteristics that are essentially female, and their imagery is closely related to ideas of sexuality and fertility. The scarification mark on this mask’s forehead is an oblique symbol of a woman’s genitalia, while its lustrous black surface imitates a woman’s oiled, smooth skin—a sign of ideal feminine beauty.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Sculpture
Medium: 
Wood

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