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Guro je mask

Guro je mask
Guro je maskGuro je maskGuro je maskGuro je mask
Tribe: Guro
Country: Ivory Coast
Ritual: Je Society
Name: Ze (antelope)
Materials: Wood, nails
Provenance: Hemingway Gallery NY. Andrew Turley, SuagaCollection 2005.
Comments: The mask has been reshaped with its long wooden horns removed from the back of the head. Age estimated circa 1970.

The Guro are sedentary farmers in the tropical rainforests and wooden savanna of the Ivory Coast interior. They have no central political authority and power is held on a village level by a council of elders comprised of the headmen of the various village quarters, as well as a number of mens associations. The most significant is the Je society.

At ceremonies the Je animal masks are the first to appear and they prepare the audience for the performance of the more powerful anthromorphic figures. Masqueraders dance in a manner appropriate to the animal they represent.

According to widespread legends concerning the origin of the masquerades, the spirit beings they impersonate were once snubbed by women. As a result, the Guro believe that any contact with the masqueraders is normally very harmful for women and children.

The masks are supplemented by voluminous costumes which completely conceal the dancers body. The holes for the raffia skirt have been burnt through this mask (not drilled) and the nails that held the costume in place are still visible on the chin.

The mask originally had two long horns extending from the back of the head - they were probably damaged and removed so the mask could continue to be danced. The red and black colours are representative of male power and it shows many similarities to the Zanaure mask with collar shape and painted dots around the eyes.


  1. Maskengestalten Der Guro, Eberhard Fischer & Lorenz Homberger. 1985.
  2. A History of African Art, Harry. N. Abrams Inc Publisher NY 2001.
  3. African Masks of the Barbier Mueller Collection. Prestel Verlag Munich. 1998.
  4. Guro Masks. Virginia University. Online. 2000.
  5. Masks of Black Africa. Ladislas Segy. 1976.