Exhibitions/ Art Object

Portrait Face Mask (Mblo)

19th–mid-20th century
Côte d'Ivoire, central Côte d'Ivoire
Baule peoples
Wood, pigment, hemp
H. 14 5/8 x W. 5 13/16 x D. 5 in. (37.1 x 14.8 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 911
This mask is an idealized representation of the prominent member of the community for which it was sculpted. While such works may depict either men or women, they were often commissioned by a man to honor a female relative or created by a carver in homage to a particular woman's dance skills and beauty. Because of their importance, only the best dancers are eligible to wear portrait masks in performance. On such occasions it is required that the portrait's subject, or "double," be present to accompany it.
[Julius Carlebach Gallery, Paris and New York, until 1951]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1951, New York, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1978

Ezra, Kate. "African Art at the Museum of Primitive Art: Collecting and Constructing a Continent." In Lecture. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 5, 2002.

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