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200918 - Old tribal used African Gela or War Mask from the Guere - Iv. Coast.


Old tribal used African Gela or War Mask from the Guere - Iv. Coast.
Height; 36 cm.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood and warthog horns

Gela or War Mask from the Guere or Wè People of the Iv. Coast, West Africa. Living in along the western edge of the Iv. Coast, the Guere and their neighbors the Wobe share numerous customs and beliefs. Although they are separate tribes, the two peoples are often referred to as the Wè, whose name means "men who easily forgive." Among the Guere and Wè annual festivals are sponsored during the dry season, which lasts from November to February. These festivals feature dancing and performances focused on the figure of the gela. The term gela refers to the animated being comprised of face mask, costume, and the wearer beneath. Gela masks are given a variety of identities that, rather than describing their physical appearance, are linked to the powers associated with the mask persona. The masks consist of distorted features that blend animal and human elements in an almost expressionistic manner. The gela mask is known as “The Ancient One,” suggesting that the style has persisted for multiple generations. Gela can use their power and strength for both destructive and beneficial ends. Older gela, for instance, are thought to be able to cause thunder and foul weather, or to prepare men for war; the masks offered magical protection by instilling fear and terror in potential enemies. Any gela, on the other hand, can be called upon to reconcile problems within a community. The feral aspect of the gela acts as a counter example to humans, who are, by contrast, encouraged to embrace order and civilization. This powerful mask is made of warthog horn sewn onto a wooden mask.
It shows wear consistent with a dating to the mid. 20th century.