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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Baule Masks : Baule Brass Elephant Mask
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Baule Brass Elephant Mask - PF.5568
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high x 8.75" (22.2cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Brass


Additional Information: closet AF10

Location: United States
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Description
Zoomorphic face masks such as this one were called ngblo. They were worn by dancers during performances in daytime public theatres or nocturnal funeral ceremonies. This mask probably belongs to a series of animal-hunting dramas where unmasked youths mimed the hunting and eventual killing of the masked animal dancer, occassionaly bordering on outright mockery. A dance such as this might have played a significant role in conjuring the spirit of the beast, however it was most likely purely entertainment. The forms of the mask combine elements of humans and elephants together. The large disk ears, ribbed curving trunk, and tiny tusks all conform to the shape of the human head. The eyes and the arrangement of the forms are also strictly human. The end of the trunk is flared open as if in the middle of a mighty cry. Perhaps this mask had some higher religious or ritual purpose, but most likely it was used strictly to entertain the tribe as it continues to delight us today. - (PF.5568)

 

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