Old Tribally Used We (Krahn) Mask – Von Gla – Bush Spirit – Côte d’Ivoire
Wood, metal, fur, fiber, hair, 5 brass bells, pigment. Cm. 37,0 high (11.81″) x cm. 35,0 width (14.57″ x 13.78″). Grams 2.052 (4.52 lb).
This mask, which appears to represent a bush spirit, combines many diverse materials to create an image of power. Multiple eyes, two protruding winglike ears, large teeth, and other power symbols such as 5 heavy bells and a beard of authentic animal skin form a fierce countenance that frightens away negative forces.
The Krahn are an ethnic group of Liberia and Ivory Coast. This group belongs to the Kru language family and its people are sometimes referred to as the Wee, Guéré, Sapo, or Wobe. It is likely that Western contact with the Kru language is the primary reason for the development of these different names.
“Fear of raiding parties drove the We deep into the forest to live in small independent groups. This isolation enabled them to protect their cultural heritage, unlike their neighbors to the south, the Grebo, whose masks have often dissapreaed, eradicated by the iconoclasm of syncretistic religious movements… If they occupy such a large place among the We and each individual devotes so much time to them, it is because as we have seen, they cover so many areas of life: law, politics, religion, economy, agriculture and finally entertainment. For such and such a problem, event, funeral, a given mask is called on which does not mean the others are lost from view: as they are means of expressing desires, joys, expectations, distress, and because as such they impose themselves as a language, a way of dialoguing with the supernatural and are dealing with a plurality that is continually being renegotiated, readapted, enlarged. New masks are always appearing” (Alain michel Boyer, visions of Africa, We, 2019).
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