Dan (Dan-Gioh, Yakuba)

Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea

The Dan people numbering 350.000 live in the Western part of the Cote d´Ivoire and into Liberia. They make their living from farming cocoa, coffee, rice and manioc. The Dan people have achieved  fame for their entertainment festivals, which are performed for important visitors. During these festivals the dancers perform their dance on stilts. The masks worn are sacred and therefore guarded in a sacred hut. The masks do not represent the spirits of the wilderness they are the spirits.

Dan masks are characterized by a concave face, protruding mouth, high-domed forehead and are often covered in a rich brown patina. There are a variety of Dan masks, each of which has a different function. Over time most of them have lost their original function but have been recycled into contexts related to entertainment. Nonetheless, the great masks live on, their even more rare appearances being reserved for times of tension, when needed they may exercise their role of social control and their faculty to reduce conflicts.

The Dan statues are not representation of ancestors or spirits, they are three-dimensional portraits of the chiefs favorite spouses functioning as maternity figures with babies on their back.

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Fine Tribal & Modern Art Gallery