African art > Mask > Gu Mask
Zauli Dance Gouro Gu Mask (N° 14871)
Animal symbolism in African art
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This monoxyle African mask features a thin female face with a complex crest that mixes three types of horns associated with a bird figure. In the lower part, a female effigy, naked, also hangs from horns, composing a singular scene. This African Gouro mask is painted in contrasting tones.
Among the group of Mande from the south, in central Côte d'Ivoire, on the banks of the Bandama, the Gouro are organized in bloodcuts, and constitute the western neighbors of the Baoulé who have borrowed several characteristics of their creations. Animists, they have been using a family of masks associated with the zaoulidance. Indeed, like the African Goli masks of the Baoulé, all Guro masks, related to the geniuses of nature, come in two zoomorphic masks followed by a third anthropomorph, which is considered the wife of the mask zamblé , the Gu . The Gu , whose function is apotropaic, represents a young woman with the criteria of beauty specific to the Guro, in particular the facial scarifications and the lined teeth, absent on this copy. It is by singing in honour of the zamblé that the Gu, following the sound of the flute, moves gracefully. The dancer is fully clothed in brightly coloured fabrics and plant fibres in harmony with the polychromy of the mask, and performs various acrobatic feats in front of an attentive audience.
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