231163 - Old African Dean Gle Mask from the Dan People - Liberia.


Old used Dean Gle mask from the Dan people in Liberia.
Height; 41 cm.
The Bété are settled on the left bank of the Sassandra River, grouped into large villages, probably as a security measure. They attached more importance to hunting than to crops and therefore produced only what was strictly necessary. To materialize the hostile forces of the forest, they sculpted this type of mask that caused terror, the Glé or Gré, with crooked features, teeth of wild animals...
In the past, this mask led peace-restoring ceremonies after armed conflicts and took part in customary court hearings.
Originally Wé, the Bété mask is more elongated, equipped with fangs, horns and nails.This dean gle mask represents an idealized version of Dan beauty. It is characterized by narrow eyes, an oval shape, a smooth forehead, and a mouth slightly open to expose teeth. Dean gle's functions are to teach, entertain and nurture
Gle can be divided into two categories: that of dean gle, which is a gentle, peaceful gle without a gender, but whose qualities are thought of as feminine and that of bu gle, which is the war glenamed after the sound of a gunshot, whose qualities are thought of as masculine.

Scholars use the terms ge and gle interchangeably to refer both to Dan masks and to invisible, supernatural spirit forces that live in the forest but esteem to enter the civilized world of the village.The only way they can do this, the Dan believe, is through masquerade.
In order for a gle to be embodied during a masquerade, an initiated member of a Dan men's society must have a dream that reveals the exact nature of the gle, its intended function, and the masquerade through which the gle would manifest. The council of elders, once they are told of the dream, decides whether the masquerade ensemble should be created for that man to wear and perform.
The wooden gle is accompanied by a full-body costume constructed of Raffia feathers and fur. It is believed that each glehas its own personality, preferences, dance and speech patterns and is given a personal name. The wearer of the mask takes on all of these qualities during the masquerade. Having come from the dark, mysterious realm of the forest, a gle is believed to be unpredictable. Therefore, an attendant always accompanies the Gle masquerader to control it and interpret its speech.