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    Dan (Liberia)
    Face Mask
    Wood, aluminum, small-scale metal chains, raffia cloth, European cloth, cowry shells, leopard tooth, pig tusk, fiber, two metal bracelets, two bells, terminating medicine packing
    Height: 9 ½ inches Width: 6 ¾ inches Depth: 4 inches

    This extraordinary mask was collected with at least the latter part of its history (given below), and is a sterling example of how a mask, through accrued effectiveness and age, can acquire additional qualities and functions, so that it undergoes a virtual metamorphosis. The basic facial type - slit eyes framed in metal, central vertical forehead scar, small mouth - indicate that it started life as a deangle ("joking or laughing masquerade") circumcision camp mask, "a friendly, attractive spirit, one who makes men joyful when he appears" (Eberhard Fischer and Hans Himmelheber. The Art of the Dan in West Africa. Zürich: Rietberg Museum, 1984, p.11). Each deangle would have its own personal name.

    H. Bruce Greene gives the following history: "The back of this mask has been packed with various magical substances, not only for protection of the village, but also so that it can never be worn again. It seems that the original owner/ judge, was considered the fairest to all parties, regardless of their sex or their village association. The embellishment denoted the power as well as payments to him. They were carried in all major ceremonies of the village.

    "At the ceremony to celebrate the capture of a Pygmy Hippo for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., by the trapper Forkba, this mask was released. Nigel Wolff promised he would see that it was shown to many people and they would be told of the greatness of this judge. Through various museum exhibitions through the eastern U.S.,...he fulfilled this promise...(The mask was) collected by Nigel Wolff in the summer of 1967 in a Krahn village in Grand Gedeh County, Liberia."

    The cloth parts are in poor condition, the tusk is splitting at its upper end, and part of the aluminum strip is missing under the proper right eye. There is some sloughing of the rear medicine packing. There are minute insect losses in the proper left cheek.

    Provenance: Nigel Wolff, Washington, D.C. (as detailed above)
    H. Bruce Greene II and family, Naples, Florida

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 938

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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