dan zakpei mask
country: ivory coast
material: wood, red paint, kaolin, rolled fiber, cowrie shell cluster
size: 21.5" (54.6 cm)
provenace: scaasi collection
This Dan mask is specifically known as zakpei gle or ge from the peoples of the Northeast of Liberia. Zakpai ge is the fire prevention ge. Its function is to insure that women have put out their cooking fires every day during the dry season, before the afternoon winds begin to blow. Zakpai ge is aggressive, sometimes throws things, and is meant to inspire fear. The round eyes on this mask are often smaller than those of the gunyege, and may even be slightly projecting tubes. Masks are the most important art form of the Dan. Many of the other forms of sculpture are derived from the mask and what the mask symbolizes. The mask is believed to embody both the physical mask and the individual spirits during masquerade performances. Socially, masks are the means of bringing control and order to village life. Dan people are well known for their elaborate and lavish entertaining festivals, which were village ceremonies, but are today performed largely for important visitors.
Notes on the Scaasi Collection: The bulk of the collection was put together in the 1970's from galleries in the New York area while the collector was living in Greenwich Village. His collecting continued over the years though with a piece added here and there through till the mid to late 1990’s. No documentation exists, the information is from family members.