Mid 20th Century Dan Gle mask, carved wood with wool and metal detail, pierced edge for attachments. Liberia, Africa.
Masks are the most important art form of the Dan people of Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia. The Dan people refer to these masks as gle or ge, terms that refers both to the physical mask and the individual spirits the mask is believed to embody during masquerade performances. Masks served as agents of social control, enforcing the ruling council’s rules and orders. The masked figures were believed to be incarnate spiritual beings capable of rendering unbiased judgments. The specific functions of individual masks, once removed from their village contexts, are impossible to determine, however in this example, the nearly closed eyes and small mouth probably indicate that it served in a peacemaking function and generally created harmony in the community.