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Dan Deangle mask

Dan Deangle mask
Dan Deangle maskDan Deangle maskDan Deangle maskDan Deangle mask
Tribe: Dan (Yakuba)
Country: Ivory Coast
Ritual: Initiation / Intermediary
Name: Deangle
Materials: Wood, cowrie shells, burlap cloth
Provenance: Primal Art Source, Amitin and Attia Zouhir 1986. Ralph Proctor Gallery, Pittsburgh 1986-2002. Andrew Turley, SuagaCollection 2002.
Comments: Age estimated by Candice Ranelli at the Ralph Proctor Gallery at pre 1940.

The Dan, Gio or Yakuba are a population of around 350,000 inhabiting the central west Cote d'Ivoire and adjacent areas of Liberia. Their area of habitation is an isolated but lush mountainous, isolated and because of this with a relatively unknown history. They make their living from farming cassava, manoic and cocoa. Rubber and coffee are cash crops - with some plantations maintained by Malinke or other outsiders.

Before unifying secret societies that were set up at the turn of the century, each Dan village was an autonomous socio-political unit governed by a chief elected on the basis of wealth and social position.

Today the Poro Society acts as a major regulator of Dan life. It is also the most important mask using group exerting its political influence in a number of chiefdoms, involved in legal matters and in the education of boys.

Masks with female features, narrow eyes and a band over the forehead decorated with cowrie shells serve a variety of purposes. They are danced for entertainment, support the great mask (Go Ge) and are associated with the circumcision camps for adolescent boys.

The masks are made and worn exclusively by males. They are unique in that they are not carved by apprentice craftsmen, only by initiated members of the Poro Society.

In the circumcision camps there are two types of mask. One of which is responsible for teaching the initiates and for frightening away women and children. The other for collecting food from the mothers of the youths. A vertical central forehead scar is more typical of guard masks. However it is also a characteristic feature of works created by carvers with the We (See almost identical mask in the Barbier Mueller collection Inv. 1003-13, Southern Dan acquired by Josef Mueller before 1942).

This mask has had a repair made to the nose and under the shell crown is a chip from the wood. The conical crown is attached around the edge through 25 holes around the masks edge. The inside is worn smooth around the nose and forehead areas.


  1. The Tribal Arts of Africa, J.B. Bacquart. 1998.
  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. Dan Masks, Middlebury University Online. 2001.
  5. African Art, Frank Willet. Praeger Publishers Inc NY. 1971.
  6. Liberia Research. The Lois E Woods Museum. Norfolk State University. Online. 2001.
  7. African Sculpture Speaks. Ladislas Segy.1975.