Student Interpretation → Margot Weissman

  • Face Mask

Deangle Mask

This deangle mask from Liberia is used in masquerades to give physical form to bodiless spirits. Carved by the Dan people, the masks features represent idealized female beauty, although the spirit is genderless. The stripe across the eyes is a current makeup practice among women of the Dan in Liberia, but the raised line that runs down the forehead is representative of a tattooing practice that is no longer in use. For a man to create a deangle mask, a spirit must come to him in a dream to show the appearance that it wants him to create. Adornments differ from mask to mask. Cowries are a symbol of wealth but are used only sparsely here. The imported plastic red and white beads that are attached to this mask, combined here with cowry shells, are the identifying adornments for this particular spirit. The beads are attached loosely to promote movement when the wearer dances in the masquerade.

Face Mask

Face Mask (deangle)

Dan People, Liberia
Face Mask (deangle)
Wood, pigment, fabric, beads, cowrie shells, metal
Museum purchase, funds provided by Michael A.

Deangle, a masquerade performed by Dan and Mano men, appears in ceremonies for male initiation societies in which it plays the role of a nurturing and joyful maternal figure. With its slanted eyes covered by a white band of pigment, softly modeled features, tattooed forehead, and chiseled teeth, it incorporates the characteristics of ideal feminine beauty. The crown, adorned with cowries and plastic beads, recalls the beading that enhances the coiffures and bodies of women. The colors red and white relate to the powers of the spirit, or gle, embodied by the mask.

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