Lot: 33

Anthropomorphic face mask "kpan"

Côte d'Ivoire, Baule

Provenance Size Hammer price
Theo Niermeijer (1940-2005), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Niermeijer was a dutch sculptor, painter, graphic artist, installation artist and architect.
H: 15.7 inch sold

wood, pigments, plant fibre, fabric, rest.

A stylistically very similar mask, probably from the same workshop, was auctioned on 11 November 2017 as lot 236 at Zemanek-Münster (AHDRC 0147553).

"Kpan" masks are part of the "goli" mask ensemble, which can be performed both as an entertainment and for the funerals of important men.

The masks "kpan" appear as the last pair of masks towards the end of the "goli" festival. With portrait-like faces and elaborate hairstyles, they embody the ideal woman. "Kpan" ("the older woman") is considered the wife of "goli glin" (= the older man").

"Kpan's" performance is theatrically managed for greatest effect. When they arrive, it is nearly dusk, and women have been dancing and singing through the streets in anticipation, begging "kpan" to come. The women receive the masks as beloved personages, fanning them with scarves and dancing joyously beside them.

Vogel, Susan Mullin, Baule, African Art - Western Eyes, New York 1997, p. 178