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    Description

    SENUFO "FIRESPITTER" JANUS HELMET MASK
    (COTE D'IVOIRE, WESTERN AFRICA)

    High ranking members of the men's Poro society from the Korhogo area of northern Côte d'Ivoire sometimes use janus Wanyugo helmet masks. Accompanied by a vigorous Wabele masquerade and dance, they appear at times of crisis or at the funerals of Poro members. All types of Senufo helmet masks with open crocodile jaws are thought of as "combat" types, but the Wanyugo Janus mask is the most ferocious. It is sent out into public spaces in the village to detect, disarm, destroy or expel any witches, disruptive or malevolent spirits present, and to enable ceremonies to be successfully completed. The Wanyugo janus mask casts its powers in all directions. Its dramatic masquerade may call for fire shooting from burning tinder held in its open jaws, in line with the general name of "firespitter" for composite open-jaw masks of this type. Prominent devouring crocodile jaws, vicious warthog tusks and dangerous antelope horns are combined with snakes, duiker horns and human faces in the present mask, they are emphasized by their large size and the abrupt plane transitions of the vigorous carving style. In addition, the power of the mask is augmented before each use by the insertion of various things such as porcupine quills or feathers into holes in the duiker horns, while other magical substances are placed in the cup, framed by two chameleons, on top of the head. After use, the dangerous power of the mask is deactivated by the removal of these magical materials and the mask is stored in the Poro society's sacred grove, out of the reach of villagers.

    The present mask bears traces of pigment, especially on the crocodile teeth of its open jaws. It retains some surface encrustation while showing slight weathering in the open jaws, but is in overall excellent condition.

    Length: 24 inches


    Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500.

    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
    May, 2015
    15th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 331

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