Face Mask
Date Early- to mid-20th century
Artist:Dogon peoples, Malian
Dimensions Overall: 39 x 24 in. (99.1 x 61 cm)
Medium Wood | Pigment | Palm fiber | Rattan
Credit Line Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
Description Mask made of wood, pigment, rattan, palm fiber. "Sim". Cross-pieces missing.
Exhibition History"Rediscovering a Legacy: Artistic Traditions of West Africa," Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, Va., January 8 - March 27, 2005.
"Rediscovering a Legacy: Artistic Traditions of West Africa," Peninsula Fine Arts Center, Newport News, Va., January 8 - March 27, 2005.
Published ReferencesDon Harrison, "Art Unveiled," _Coastal Virginia Magazine,_ April 2014, 52.
Object Label Face Mask (Kanaga) Early- to mid-20th century Dogon peoples Mali Wood, pigment, rattan, and palm fiber Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 71.2397 The kanaga mask is made by young initiates in the Awa society, which oversees funeral rituals. The rough-hewn form of the face and the rope joining the sections of the headpiece reveal that it was made by novices. As a part of their introduction to Awa traditions, young men would learn that the headpiece represents the legs and body of a crocodile, an animal who in Dogon myth brought the culture's ancestors to the region. An Awa elder would interpret the same piece differently. When the kanaga mask is used in a funereal dance, the masker moves his head to create the pattern of a helix, or spiral. The mask and dance combined with the perspective of age represent the cyclical nature of life, death, and regeneration observed throughout nature.
Object Number 71.2397