Ram Horned Human Mask, Yaure People, Ivory Coast, 1970.

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Ram Horned Human Mask, Yaure People, Ivory Coast, 1970.
A wooden mask of a male with elongated face and prominent forehead. Long nose with half open lentoid shaped eyes, small pursed mouth. To the forehead a arched band in white pigment extending to the face. A series of triangles in white pigment framing the face; small beard to the chin and scarification mark between the eyes. Two large ram horns extending from the forehead.

The masks of the Yohure represent human faces often supplemented by animal attributes. The masks are considered emblems of ‘yu’ spirits, which are very dangerous; they have to be handled with extreme caution. By means of the participants dance, they restore the social equilibrium of the community and accompany the deceased into the ancestral realm. These masks are worn predominantly on two occasions: the ‘je’ celebration and the ‘lo’ ceremony. The first purifies the village after a death and helps the deceased soul on its way to a final resting place. Painted masks are mainly worn by dancers during this ceremony, while for ‘lo’ funeral ceremony masks covered with black pigments appear. Women may not participate in funeral ceremonies, neither may they look at the masks, for fear that this encounter with death might jeopardize their fertility. This means that before starting the village purification rituals related to a death, the women are confined to their homes. With the aid of such masks, the people hope to influence supernatural powers, or ‘yu’ spirits, that can do harm to humans, but that can also ensure their welfare.

H. 37 cm

Property from a Belgium private collection

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