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    Description

    TWO DAN MINIATURE MASKS
    (LIBERIA, WESTERN AFRICA)

    Wood miniature masks, often called ma go (small head) are common among the Dan people. Most are female faces with slitted eyes, full lips and pointed chins, as is one of the present examples, and, like these, exhibit signs of much handling in the form of surface wear and polish or pigment encrustation.
    They may have several functions. A male Poro society member whose family owns an important mask and its masquerade may carry a miniature replica of the mask when he is away from home to maintain contact with its benevolent, protective spirit by means of small sacrifices on the replica. A miniature can also identify its owner as a Poro society member when he visits a distant Dan village, giving rise to the popular name "passport mask" in Europe and America. Although a woman does not own a Poro mask, just before she is to marry and move to her husband's village in this patrilineal society, a small replica of the family's mask may be made for her to maintain her close protective connection with family and mask. Such a miniature is consecrated with a small sacrifice and by being placed next to the original for a night to establish a connection with it. The woman will keep the tiny replica for life, among her private treasures. Miniatures protect the path to the initiation camp; candidates make small sacrifices to them on their way there. Miniatures are also displayed and their meanings explained to initiation candidates, and miniatures witness and protect the initiation ceremony itself.

    Provenance:
    Collected in the 1970s from members of the Srohlay clan in Northeastern Liberia by Charles D. Miller III of St. James, NY

    Height: 4 ½ inches each


    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 Dates
    May, 2015
    15th Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 656

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