Guere Mask

The Guere, neighbours of the Dan people, make masks for similar purposes but usually of a form that is more ugly or scary than Dan masks. They are used for rituals, education and social control and to appear frightening to enemies.

We Wobe mask

Tribe: Guere

Origin: Ivory Coast/Liberia

Approx Age: 1st half 20th Century

Materials: wood, cowrie shells, brass bells, woven fibre, mirror glass

Dimensions cm: 28 x 17 (mask only)

Ref. Number: 1860

SOLD

Description:
An imposing Guere mask from Liberia/Ivory Coast. A nice old mask that has been repainted over its lifetime, now it is silver, yellow and black, but there are old traces of blue. Adorned with mirrors, a magical medicine pouch on the forehead, eyelashes over the eyes, cowrie shells and an elaborate weave beard with brass bells behind. There is a written label in Spanish which has been left on for viewing.

Provenance: Ex-Rafael Prieto Prieto, Spain.

History

The Guere people, often also called the We, are the ethnic group inhabiting parts of the Ivory Coast and Liberia. This mask with unusual open eyes at the top to allow vision through the eyelashes,  silver, black and yellow paint, cowrie shells on the top of the head, bells on the inner chin of the mask then hidden by the twill weave beard, plus a medicine pouch on the forehead, all such paraphernalia were thought to reinforce the power of the masks. All of this accounts for their identification as war masks but, according to some researchers, they are worn primarily during funerals and, in a detective capacity, to single out guilty persons in a judicial capacity.

Masks of the We people are also employed in the settlement of disputes and in ceremonies that convey moral messages. Due to their strong, distorted features which uniquely combine human and animal forms, are frequently added miscellaneous objects and materials to increase their spiritual power.

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