Saturday, 28 February 2015


Dan Passport Mask Ma | Liberia

Miniature masks often called "passport" masks are found among the various peoples of Liberia and Ivory Coast, including the Dan, Yacouba, Gio, Wenion (We, Guere), Geh, Loma, Konor, and Bete. This one comes from the Dan people. 


Sharing a wide variety of uses they are the personal masks of initiated adult men and would be carried on their person or kept on personal shrines in the home. They carried small "passport" masks in leather pouches when they travelled.

Passport masks serve to mark the passage of an initiate into the men secret society and his elevation into the higher ranks. The small masks may be presented at meetings of senior members of the men society to indicate their right to be present and participate in the deliberations.

Divinerâs would recommend that small masks be given to children to wear to ward off evil witches or cure illnesses. Small masks placed on shrines would receive the offerings and prayers of their owners and in time would accumulate a rich patina of different substances that could obscure their features.

Most of these miniature masks mirror the shape and features of the larger masks that they were modelled after. Like the full-sized dance masks the smaller masks reflect the great diversity of styles and forms of the larger masks.


For more information, and a similar example, see Bacquart's "TRIBAL ARTS OF AFRICA."

Friday, 27 February 2015