Lot: 48

Anthropomorphic face mask "kpélié" ("kpeli yehe")

Côte d'Ivoire, Senufo

Provenance Size Hammer price
André J.F. Köbben (1925-2019), Amsterdam / Leiden, Netherlands
Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium
H: 10.2 inch This object is not available anymore.

wood, blackened, colour pigments, base

For a stylistically comparable mask from the collections of the Linden Museum Stuttgart (inv.no. F 55.636), ex Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), London, see AHDRC 0181144.

The present mask captivates with a refined linear design of the facial features and a magnificently balanced dynamic symmetry.

"Kpélié" masks are considered an idealised representation of female beauty. According to Glaze, the masks are both visually and in terms of content the counterpart to the large zoomorphic helmet masks "wanyugo", which are associated with male authority and dangerous forces. In some Senufo groups both types of mask perform as a pair. Their balanced interplay gives visual expression to the complementary roles of men and women.

Grootaers, Jan-Lodewijk & Ineke Eisenburger (ed.), Forms of Wonderment, Vol. I, Berg en Dal 2002, p. 124