African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Guere mask
Guéré Wé mask (N° 20425)
The very diverse excrescences of this warrior's mask, supposed to provoke fear, give it a fantastic appearance. Narrow openings represent the eyes, while a grooved "snout" counterbalances the volume of the forehead. The grainy, partially flaked patina is enhanced with white and red ochre pigments.
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The Wé produced African masks that are the result of interlocking stylistic forms. The Dan , in the north, and the Wé of the south ( Krou group including the Guéré , the Wobé of the northeast and the Wé of Liberia called Kran or Khran), made use of frequent borrowings due to their proximity. The elements of the bush, protruding volumes of the forehead, horns and fangs, zoomorphic jaw in some cases evoking the gaping mouth of an animal creature, are associated with human features marking the duality of the divine .
Before the 1960s, the masks, whose elaboration was inspired by the visits of spirits during dreams, accompanied most activities such as war, dance, singing, and hunting. Each of these masks had a name associated with its function. It remained the property of the dancer's lineage.
This mask would embody a fearsome spirit, a supernatural power, that of the forest. It would appear equipped with numerous accessories, during night outings, lit by the light of torches.
The Wé were also renowned for their knowledge of plants for therapeutic purposes.
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