Guego Mask


Artwork explanation

This is a male mask worn by men during the PORO initiation rites for young boys. For the Dan, the mask is a channel of communication with the high god Zlan, but the real intermediaries are the spirits of the ancestors who are invoked through the mask.

The power of the mask to influence the ancestors depends on the social prestige of the owner, since man can only reach the prominence with their help, and his very success shows that the ancestors favor him.

This Dan Mask was used during initiation ceremonies. Dan masks are unique and only carved by initiated members of the male Poro society.

The mask was worn by an initiated male dancer. The mask was served to protect the young man against the destructive or evil forces from the time of initiation, until he arrives in the spirit realm one day.

The Dan people classify the surroundings into two realms - the village with all inhabitants (human realm), and the forest (bon) (spirit realm), the spirits rule and wildlife roam freely.

The forest is considered sacred and, crossing the boundary between the human realm and the spirit realm, can only be done by saying a prayer and wearing materials from both worlds. This creates a link between the two realms. The mask depicted above is a perfect example of the materials.

Once the male mask dancer dons the mask, he is transformed into a spirit. The mask dancer goes into a deep trance during rituals and brings forth messages of wisdom from his forebears. The messages are inaudible and in uncontrollable utters, a wise man accompany the dancer during the ritual and translates the messages.

The messages are often words of great wisdom, prescribing a way of life that leads to longevity, health and prosperity.

The cowry shells not only represent a decorative function, but also indicate that the sprits have blessed the young initiate with wealth.


Exhibition history

CAMA Gallery | Cote dIvoires Peoples | Exhibition | Cote d Ivoire

Tehran Gallery

Cote d Ivoire

solo exhibition, 07 December - 27 December


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