Fascinating carved wooden mask from the Grebo people of the Ivory Coast
This one measures 14 x 5 inches.
“Grebo” means “leaping monkey people,” a reference to their flight from a former homeland near the Sahara. Their major economic activity is producing palm oil and palm kernels for export. The culture of the Grebo, a little-known ethnic group inhabiting the coastal region of eastern Liberia and the bordering forestlands, was shaped to a considerable degree by their neighbors to the north, the Kran and Dan. Unlike the other people living in Liberia, the Grebo are not structured by the Poro society. They are ruled by a chief known as bodio who lives in near-total isolation and also assumed the function of grand priest.
The Grebo sculpt several types of masks. This type is a male war mask, more abstract and flat, formed by a board with an elongated nose and one or more pairs of tubular eyes. The masks appeared during rituals reserved for initiates and at the time of festive occasions when the whole population was able to see them. The war masks designed primarily to terrify appeared during battles, in the dances beforehand, and at the funerals of warriors.