Face Mask (Kpan)

Face Mask (Kpan) ©LCVA

Baule culture
Côte-d'Ivoire
wood
18" x 11" x 4.5"
1999.112
Gift of Donna and Thomas L. Brumfield, Jr.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself seated around a fire in the dark of night. Arresting, mysterious figures appear. Through the flickering flames you only catch a glimpse of the dancers' lovely faces. As a member of the Baule culture, you see scarification and filed teeth as evidence of great beauty. You move to rhythmic gestures and uplifting music, inherently understanding that this is a dance of rejoicing. The dance has been greatly anticipated, for only the artist sees the Kpan mask as it is cleaned and polished for the dance. Now open your eyes. The mask has been transported into a museum where it can be studied leisurely and its remarkable coiffure, smoothly sculpted surface, and fine detail can be fully appreciated.

Bibliography:Robbins, 1989, p.176; Vogel, 1997, p.112.