Face Mask (Gu)
- Attributed to Zuenola (possibly)
- 19th–mid-20th century
- Côte d'Ivoire, central Côte d'Ivoire
- Guro peoples
- Wood, pigment, cord
- H. 17 3/8 x W. 7 1/2 x D. 6 1/2 in. (44.1 x 19.1 x 16.5 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Gift of Gertrud A. Mellon, in memory of Dr. Robert Goldwater, 1977
- Accession Number:
In Guro culture, distinctions are made between masquerades that are the focus of cults and those that are more secular in nature. A sequence of three sacred masks centers around Zamble, a mythical male being whose form fuses antelope and leopard features. He is in turn complemented by his beautiful wife, Gu, and his wild, grotesque brother, Zuali. Such representations are owned by certain families that use them as the loci of sacrificial offerings proposed by diviners to improve their well-being. In contrast, other Guro mask forms, which serve only as sources of entertainment, are designed by individual performers.
This mask is remarkable for its sweeping form, in which every part of the face answers to the line of the hair. A traditional hairstyle is depicted, with all the hair gathered up into a broad leather band from which it falls in two long, tapering plaits, often mistaken for horns. The eyes are horizontal and do not slant upward, as in the distinctive style developped by the master carver identified as "Master of Zuenola" and, more recently, "Master of the Bron-Guro."