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Lot 103: Three Authentic African Wooden Dan Passport Masks
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
West Africa, Ivory Coast/Liberia, Dan, ca. early 20th century CE. A lovely trio of petite, personal passport maskettes, each example finely carved by the Dan peoples to serve as a talisman. All three are replete with features characteristic of Dan masks including a concave face, high-domed forehead, minimalist eyes, upturned noses, pointed chins, and protruding mouths, though the mouth of the maskette on the right is less pronounced. This said, each displays subtle differences. For instance, the central mask is the largest and boasts an elaborate, sectioned coiffure. The maskette on the left presents incised triangular eyes and a straight fringe of bangs. The example on the right presents very smooth contours and a gentle smile. Such maskettes were created to connect the owner with a specific spirit that is believed to offer guidance and protection. Traditionally, these are hidden and only revealed during special rituals. In addition such maskettes are carried by their owners during travels. Superb examples with rich, dark patinas characteristic of northern examples. Size: largest maskette measures 4.75" L x 2.5" W (12.1 cm x 6.4 cm)
Provenance: Ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, IL, acquired prior to 1970.
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Condition Report: Losses to jawline, right temple, coiffure, nose, and back of largest mask as shown. The other two maskettes have minor nicks and surface wear as shown. Nice patina on all three.