Dan, Ivory Cost, early to mid 20th century

wood, metal, 31 cms in height

Provenance: American collection

Lit.: Die Kunst der Dan, E. Fischer & H. Himmelheber (1976)

Beautiful object with brown-black patina and layered encrustations.

Predominantly found in the northern Dan region, the gunye gle masks were historically used to train young men to fight before a war. These days its used during a chasing game. As the game goes, the masquerade is chased by an unmasked runner. If caught, the unmasked runner wears the mask and is in turn pursued. It is believed that the power of the gle (supernatural spirit force) helps its wearer to win; if the wearer of the mask loses the race, it means that the spirit has deserted that person, and the mask will go to the fastest runner. In this sense it is a trophy mask. The mask usually has wide-open round eyes, necessary for good vision, and is tied to the head with a strap.

Price: upon request