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    Description

    GREBO, Liberia
    Horned Mask

    Wood, metal, shell, animal hide, fiber, pigments


    Although Grebo arts have been influenced by those of nearby "Dan Complex" groups like the Bete, the Grebo do not have the men's "Poro" society used by the Dan groups. Until the late 20th century, the Grebo relied upon the leadership of a male chief, "Bodio," elected by senior men. This leader was required to live in isolation while acting as chief priest as well as political leader, observing a complex system of prohibitions and spending his time in contemplation. Eventually, this office became so burdensome that by 1974 it was dying out.

    Grebo arts are in the hands of senior men, and have not been well studied. Figure sculpture is rare. Grebo masks incarnate invisible forest spirits and often exhibit stylistic influence from the arts of adjacent "Dan complex" peoples; the present mask shows some of the realism seen in the arts of nearby "Dan" groups.

    Masks fall into three general types: the first, of which the present mask is a fine example, is in the form of a large human face surmounted by bush cow horns. These masks may be embellished with metal stripping or brass-headed European furniture tacks, as is the present example. The second mask type represents the feminine ideal and has slit eyes and a sweet expression. The third type, a war mask designed to terrify an enemy, is an abstract, vertical plank mask with multiple "eyes" in the form of projecting cylinders, usually arranged in two vertical rows. It is sometimes brightly painted, and its abstraction is quite unlike the realistic tendencies of some of the other types, as seen in the present mask. An exceptionally fine old example, and one of the signature pieces of the Berg Collection.

    Provenance:
    The Robert V. Berg Collection

    Read more about the Robert V. Berg Collection here.



    Height: 23 ½ inches



    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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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