Dan Beikpan gle Mask and Costume (SOLD)

  • Tribe: Dan
  • Origin: Beyouin, Ivory Coast (Cote D'ivoire)
  • Approx Age: Mask, 40-45 years old
  • Materials: wood, raffia, material, animal fur, cowrie shells, wool etc
  • Dimensions cm: mask 30 tall x 26 wide x 80 long not including adornments that hang.
  • Ref. Number: 0993
£ SOLD

A stunning and very rare Dan Beikpangle mask and costume in fantastic condition. The Beikpangle is a royal mask but never danced by royalty but by a nominated nobleman. This beautiful mask is approximately 40-45 years old, the adornments to it are more recent as they have been changed from time to time to stay looking pristine as it represents the royal family.

Here is some footage I found on YouTube that was uploaded by  Roger D. Arnold featuring a Dan Beikpangle mask being danced.

This Dan Beikpangle mask and costume was collected from Beyouin in Cote D’ivoire, it is used in masquerades for rejoicing and celebrating a good agricultural year and a symbol of wealth and peace. It consists of a full wood face mask with a hooded adornment to which a white animal fur is attached, a beautiful array of cowries shells and platted bright coloured wool. The dangling fabric strips have sew in pieces of decoration and one also in the form of a lizard. The darker blue cloth is what is put on first before the mask but after the raffia skirt.

Masks are the most important art form of the Dan. Many of the other forms of sculpture are derived from the mask and what the mask symbolizes. Numerically, more masks are created than any other form of sculpture. Spiritually, masks are perceived to embody the most powerful of spirit forces. Socially, masks are the means of bringing control and order to village life. Masks provide the strongest impressions of a young Dan person’s earliest experience, as their importance is reinforced by their presence at all significant events.

Masks are empowered by the strongest of supernatural spirit forces, called gle. Like dii, gle inhabit the dark forest, particularly where
the trees grow high and dense. Gle long to enter into and participate in the ordered world of the village but, being invisible, cannot until a visible form for each is made. The nature of that form, a mask and complete masquerade ensemble meant to represent the personality of the gle, is seen in a dream. In addition, the gle must reveal its intended function in the dream or that dream is considered useless. The dreamer, who must be an initiated member of the men’s society, reports the dream to the council of elders.

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They then decide whether the masquerade ensemble should be created for that man to wear and perform. The carver carves the wooden face, and this is accompanied by attire that includes forest materials such as raffia, feathers, and fur. It is believed that each gle has its own personality, character, dance, speech patterns, likes, and dislikes, and it is given a personal name. The wearer of the mask takes on all these characteristics and qualities when he wears the mask ensemble. Having come from the unknown realm of the dark forest, a gle is thought to be unpredictable. Therefore it always has an attendant with it to control it as well as to interpret its speech.

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Gle can be divided into two broad categories: that of deangle, gentle, peaceful gle, which have no gender, but whose qualities are thought of as feminine; and that of bugle, gun or war gle named after the sound of the gunshot (Tabmen 1971,18), whose qualities are thought of as masculine. A third category, gle va, are “big” or “great” gle that have risen to importance, and can be either deangle or bugle in form. Apart from these general statements, it is difficult to classify the many forms of mask gle to correlate form with function. The individuality of gle make this so. A gle in mask form, which might look very similar to another, could have different characteristics and therefore different functions, even in the same village. Furthermore, there might be changes in function during one gle’s lifespan, which is often several generations long. A new face mask could be carved to replace a worn out or damaged mask for the same gle. Confusion also enters with the many different names given to each gle. A gle is given a personal name (e.g., Slii, “Hawk”; Ble, “Termite”; or Korto, “You don’t make farm,” meaning the gle distracts one from normal work) and one or more praise names (e.g., Zuku, “Amazing”; or Sadhoplo, literally, the palm leaf funnel that enables one to pour palm wine, meaning that the gle enables one to achieve success). The gle also may be called various names that denote its functions or physical characteristics, or even names that distinguish it by the traditional implements it carries. One gle may have seven or eight names.

Dan masks are sacred objects.Dan masks are used for protection and as a channel for communication with the spirit world. The Dan also carry small ‘passport masks’ for personal protection when they are living away from home.The Dan believe that their world is split into two domains: the human domain which is represented by the village and its people, and the spiritual domain which is represented by the forest and its spirits.When a dancer wears a Dan mask he becomes the spirit of that mask.....:

In spite of the possibility of such variations, the following range of known functions may be assigned to the most common mask forms of the Dan.

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