Dan Wooden Gunyega Mask with Raffia Beard

SKU PF.4990

1900 AD to 1930 AD


16″ (40.6cm) high x 8″ (20.3cm) wide


Wood, Raffia


Liberia / Ivory Coast

Gallery Location



The Dan use masks during funerals, initiations and various celebrations, all of which involve dance and occasionally pantomime. Stylistic details indicate the function of the mask and its particular role in an event. This handsome mask is distinguished by its round eyes, as opposed to the fine slits of the Deangle mask. An overhanging forehead sets the eyes into even deeper relief, the nose turns upwards at the tip, and the lips are very full with a cleft on the upper portion. The beard of raffia fibre adds height and dimension, and also designates this mask as masculine. The Gunyega rules over the footraces of young initiates, representing a masked spirit that must compete against unmasked runners. In this context, it must be a suitable “medium” for a spirit who partakes in human activities, conveying a feeling of the physical and non-physical worlds. In both senses this mask performs admirably.

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