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Dan people of Ivory Coast and Liberia have achieved notoriety for their entertainment festivals, which were village ceremonies, but are today performed largely for important visitors. During these festivals, masked performers dance on stilts. All Dan masks are sacred; they do not represent spirits of the wilderness, they are these spirits. Dan masks are characterized by a concave face, a protruding mouth, high-domed forehead and are often covered in a rich brown patina. There are a variety of Dan face masks, each of which has a different function. They may be the intermediaries, who acts between the village and the forest initiation camp, may act against bush fires during the dry season, used in pre-war ceremonies, for peace-making ceremonies, for entertainment. Over time, many among them have lost their original function and have been recycled into contexts related to entertainment, emerging only for festivals or events organized for visitors. Nonetheless, the great masks live on, their even more rare appearances being reserved for times of tension, when it is important they may exercise their role of social control and their faculty to reduce conflict or settle legal wrangles. Dan masks are the real treasures of African art tradition, ranging in their expressive powers from gentle tenderness to fierce aggression.
This particular mask has three large bells. When the mask is shaken, they produce very melodious sound together with pieces of horns and beads tied to the chin.
This mask was featured in the book "Страсти старьевщика. Рассказы коллекционеров"
"Passions of an Antiquarian". Chapter "Many Faces of Masks in the Raskin Collection" by Vera Raskin
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection