Lot: 155

Anthropomorphic face mask "deangle"

Côte d'Ivoire, Dan-Nyor, Uopie (ca. 1890-1950) or follower

Provenance Size Hammer price
Mathias Komor (1909-1984), New York City, USA (ca.1966)
Dorothy and James Schram, Burlington, Iowa, USA, 1976 donated to:
Iowa Wesleyan University Collection, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, USA (Deaccessioned by the above in 2023)
H: 8.7 inch 16000 EUR

wood, old collection label "Mathias Komor, New York, Works of Art, ...814", base

The present mask shows great stylistic similarities with a mask acquired by Hans Himmelheber in Nyor Diaple in 1949 and first published in his standard work "Negerkunst und Negerkünstler" in 1960 (p. 157, ill. 126 a & b).

In his work on "African Masters of the Ivory Coast" from 2014, Eberhard Fischer was able to attribute this mask to a Master Uopie, who lived from around 1890 to 1950 in the village of Nyor Diaple, where he was considered the undisputed master carver of his generation.

According to Fischer, typical features of Uopie's mask are the pointed oval face shape with a short chin, the narrow eye slits, which are lined by a striking "fishtail frame" that was probably once painted white, and the mouth with strikingly full lips.

In the mid-20th century, the sculptors of Nyor Diaple were recognised far beyond their village as the best mask carvers in the region. For generations, they created works that were of significance for the whole of Dan Land. Himmelheber and Fischer documented three masters in particular in Diaple between 1950 and 1975: Tame, Si and Topieme. According to his own reports, Tame (born around 1900) learnt his skills from Master Uopie, with whom he spent four years as an apprentice (Fischer & Homberger, 2014, p.116).

"Dean" mask figures were created for the boys' initiation camps. Daily, usually in rotation, the various "dean" masquerades leave the camp and go into the village to ask the women for food for the men and boys secluded in the circumcision camp. Their beautiful female faces and engaging behaviour were intended to have a positive influence on the mothers. Dan sculptors formulated their ideal of a beautiful female face in "dean" mask figures.


Himmelheber, Hans, Negerkunst und Negerkünstler, Würzburg 1960, p. 157, ill. 126 a & b Fischer, Eberhard & Hans Himmelheber, Die Kunst der Dan, Zürich 1976, p. 45, ill. 2 Fischer, Eberhard & Hans Himmelheber, The Arts of the Dan in West Africa, Zurich 198

ADHRC: 0205703