African art > African mask > Bassa mask
Masque Bassa Gela (N° 14063)
Protruding front dominating wide, incised eyelids, gridded nasal ridge, parallel shell hairstyle and oblong chin. These anatomical details form the stylistic variants of the African mask named Gela , Geh-Naw , of the Bassa ethnic group of Liberia.
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The matte patina has slight residue of kaolin. Break on the outline.
The group Bassa of Liberia is established in the coastal region, particularly around Grand-Bassa. Its culture and artistic production have been influenced by the neighbouring Dan and Kpellé, of the manded language. The Bassa have societies of female and male initiation, including the chu-den-zo which gave birth to this type of sculptural work. The mask geh-naw, or gela , was worn on the dancer's forehead, attached to a wicker frame, accompanied by cloths concealing the wearer, and evolved into a graceful dance to mark the end of the initiation of young boys. Wearing this mask is now associated with the ceremonies of welcoming distinguished visitors.
Sources: "African Masks", Ed. Adam biro, and "The Soul of Africa" S.Diakonoff
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