Bete-Niabwa Peoples, Ivory Coast

Wood, studs, hair and leather

Gift of Shirley and Roderic Pearman, Ken and Jo Carol Robinson

15 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches

Formerly used as “masks of war” Bete-Niabwa masks are now used
only for entertainment, funerals or to celebrate the end of a mourning period. In the past, their function as war masks made symbolic reference to “war” waged against the malediction of sorcerers and criminals. As
beliefs and practices associated with witchcraft and sorcery have
been repressed during and since colonialism, such masks
are made and used for new purposes. The masks are often owned by families and are passed down from father to son. Their iconography combines human and zoomorphic elements, mostly
notably the arcane buffalo.

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