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Face Mask (Kpeliye'e)

Date:
19th–mid-20th century
Geography:
Côte d'Ivoire, northern Côte d'Ivoire
Culture:
Senufo peoples
Medium:
Wood, horns, raffia fiber, cotton cloth, feather, metal, sacrificial material
Dimensions:
H. 30 1/4 x W. 13 x D. 9 in. (76.8 x 33 x 22.9 cm)
Classification:
Wood-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1965
Accession Number:
1978.412.489
  • Description

    Throughout the twentieth century, members of poro, a Senufo initiation association, wore small, finely carved face masks as insignia. The masks, known as kpeliye'e, feature delicate oval faces with geometric projections at the sides. Raised and incised scarification patterns ornament their smooth, glossy surfaces. Considered feminine, the masks honor deceased Senufo elders with their grace and beauty. They provide a complement to the aggressive Senufo helmet masks also sponsored by fraternal organizations in the region. The feathers and animal horns attached to this example are unusual, and may have reflected its owner's power to counteract negative forces in the community.

  • Provenance

    [Charles Ratton, Paris, until 1964]; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1964–1978

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
310950

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