Title: Bird Mask (ge gon)
Date: 20th century
Artist: Unidentified Dan artist
Medium: wood with metal staples and fiber
8 5/8 x 6 1/4 x 7 5/8 in. (21.9 x 15.9 x 19.4 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Rene and Stephanie Bravmann
Object Number: 207:1987
Place associated: Nimba or Grand Gedeh County, Liberia
Current Location: On View, Gallery 117
This mask is dominated by a large beak hinged with twine. The individual wearer of this mask gave up his identity and assumed the identity of the mask’s spirit, likely a bird. The wearer then transmitted the message of the spirit to the village verbally or through dances. Masks played central roles in the lives of the Dan people and were prominent in all aspects of society. They addressed two spheres: the realm of everyday life, consisting of daily activities, domestic animals, and tools; and the realm of the forest, consisting of raw materials, wild animals, and spirits. In the realm of the forest, danger lurked everywhere and many rituals and traditions were created to protect people. This mask could have been used in either realm.
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