Liberia Bassa Mask

20th Century
$980 USD
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W: 7.0" D: 4.75" H: 11.0"
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Covered with an extraordinary black crusted patina, this wooden Liberian mask was hand-crafted in the style of the Bassa ethnic group. Bassa communities have a number of rich masking traditions. Among these are Chu-Den-Zo and No, both of which utilize a type of mask known as gela. This mask is used in No dances held during celebratory events. In No performances, the gela emphasizes the feminine and graceful movements of the dancer, used to illustrate desirable qualities women are expected to possess. The gela is typically attached to a woven framework that projects outward from the forehead of the performer, and draped fabric hangs from the perimeter of the mask to conceal their head and shoulders.

The artistic influence of the neighboring Dan people is clearly seen in this fine gela, with its tapered face, slit eyes, and deep concavity. An intricate coiffure is carved on the crest of the mask, showcasing the stunning craftsmanship of the Bassa people. This same attention to detail can be seen along the bridge of the nose which is adorned with a stylistic etching. A beautifully aged patina lends further textural richness to this wonderful example of Bassa carving.

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