Mountain Grebo, Wobé or Guéré Poro society mask
Liberia and Ivory Coast
9" tall x 6" wide - sold with custom mount
ex Foley-Oates collection, UK
ex Maurice Joy, London (1997)
wood, metal, pigment
early 20th century


This mask lived an interesting life before its introduction into Western
collections. Masks such as this one grow over time, both in size and
importance and gain respect over the years. They can become elevated in
status and even change their ritual function through the addition/subtraction
of colors, metals, animal and plant parts, etc.

In the case of this mask the different layers of paint tell a story of its history.
The yellow paint indicates that it started out as a low-level
Kwi society Bush
Spirit mask and at some point it evolved into a stronger
Poro society mask
with the addition of the red.  

The white on the eyes was not painted over, so it retained its supernatural
ability to detect witch magic, evil, etc. Yet the jaw is not articulated as seen
on most (but not all) judgment mask so it could find bad/evil and accuse but
may or may not have been able to render judgment.  Unfortunately all of the
attachments that once adorned this mask are no longer present. These
attachments add a lot of volume to the masks and make a bold statement.
For additional detail click on any thumbnail to see the high resolution version of the image which will open in a new window.

CLICK HERE to view an interesting write-up on this particular mask. Will open a PDF file.