240324 - Impressive very old Guéré Wé mask - Iv. Coast.


Impressive very old Guéré Wé mask from Ivory CoastHardwood, plant fibers, metal (teeth), pigments
Dimensions: H 38cm W 22 cm (without fabric braids) - Weight: 1,560 kg.
This mask was collected in the 1940s and purchased in my private collection in 2004, with a certificate of authenticity.

This polychrome mask adopts the strongly expressionist style very often present in Wé (Guéré) masks. Relief volumes form the different parts of the face: the open mouth decorated with a few metal teeth, the strong and protruding nose.

Two pairs of eyes, one in the shape of a cowrie shell and the second formed of two characteristic hollow cylinders. These eyes are accompanied by two barely visible slits to see through the mask.
The face is overlooked by a large, very domed forehead, surmounted by a crest allowing the mask to be grasped.
The hair is made of braided plant fibers and raffia. A collar made of woven rope fabric surrounds the mask, which has also preserved numerous remains of pigments of different tones of green, blue, dark red and yellow. Remains of animal skin barely survive, probably being more fleshed out originally.

This type of mask appeared during funerals and could also act as a “detective mask” designating a guilty person.
The Guéré are a West African population living west of Ivory Coast and across the border in Liberia. Like their Wobé neighbors, they are part of the Wé group. The Guéré produced masks with powerful features covered with various accessories.

These masks are distinguished by their tendency towards abstraction and the stylization of their features, sometimes caricatured, sometimes expressionist.