A Senufo Kpelié mask from the Ivory Coast, of narrow form with an elongated face with numerous differently designed decorative scars, various flanges in geometric shapes, between the pierced almond-shaped eyes sits a narrow nose, above a domed forehead with nodules and two rows of zigzag ornaments, attached to this is a twisted bird’s neck with a head, which in turn holds a fish in its beak; fine dark patina.
Kpelie-masks were worn during funeral sessions by the Poro society. These funeral festivities are marked by masquerades, which symbolically expresses the fundamental dualities in Senufo Thought: male/female, body/spirit, life/death. In general this type of mask is symbolizing an ideal woman. The unique features which characterize the Kpelié mask include elongated flanges radiating from the bottom part of the mask, which are a reference to the hornbill bird. The horns on the mask refer to the ram, an important sacrificial animal. The nodules on the forehead represent palm nuts as well as vulvas; they are flanked by cicatrization marks that symbolize the twins born to the primordial couple. The significance of the double face are not known, but double- and single- faced Kpelié are used interchangably. Facing the Mask, Herreman, Frank, Museum for African Art. s. publ.
Lit.: Holas, Bohumil, L’art sacré sénoufo. Ses différentes expressions dans la vie sociale, Limoges, 1978. Herreman, Frank, Facing the Mask, Museum for African Art, New York, 2002. Till Foerster, Divination bei den Kafibele-Senufo. Zur Aushandlung und Bewältigung von Alltagskonflikten, Berlin, 1985. Wolfgang Jaenicke, Forbidden games.
500 – 600,- Euro
Height: 34,5 cm
Weight: 500 g