Ivory Coast

The Bete people are located in central west Ivory Coast numbering about 600.000. Today the vast majority still follow their traditional African religion, believing in a God “Lago”, but at same time they attend spirits; spirits of their ancestors, and spirits inhabiting nature. The religious cults give rise to numerous mask performances. Bete carvers are famous for one particular face mask, the gre or nyabwa, caracterized by it´s exaggerated, grimacing distorted features. In earlier days, this mask presided over the cermony held when peace was restored after armed conflicts . The mask was also worn to prepare men for war, where the mask was believed to offer magical protection by instilling fear and terror in potential enimies.

The Bete also create carved elegant statues. Male and female statues are displayed in shelters or shrines to represent the founders of the community. Other smaller statuettes may have carevd to represent spouses from the other world, a tradition inspired by the Baule.

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Fine Tribal & Modern Art Gallery