Lot: 159

95th Tribal Art Auction

Anthropomorphic face mask "gu"

Côte d'Ivoire, Guro, Master of Gohitafla

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Madelyn Klein Anderson, New York, USA
Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium (2018)
H: 14.6 inch 25000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, pigments, collection no. "71:56"

The "Master of Gohitafla" is ascribed a group of stylistically comparable masks. They are all carved from the same heavy wood, stained black and polished to a shiny finish.

Closest to the present mask is a "gu" mask from the collection Fred and Rita Richman, New York (AHDRC 0060319). Both show a narrow elongated face with high arched forehead and serrated hairline. The narrow slit eyes are framed by concentric grooves, a graphic element typical of mask faces of the northern Guro in the 1920s and 1930s. The formation of ears, nose and mouth, flanked by incised semicircles, also largely coincide.

Two other masks by this master, both from the Han Coray Collection, are now in the Rietberg Museum in Zurich (AHDRC 0125478 and 0125477).

The region of Gohitafla was famous for its "zamble" and "gu" mask performances.

Together with "zauli" - a grotesque animal mask with long horns - and "zamble" whose face reminds of a leopard or a crocodile - "gu" forms one mask family. "Gu" is considered to be "zambles" wife.

"Gu" is always carved "uanya iri nya" - after the model of "a beautiful woman". However, it is danced by men. During her performance, which is only accompanied by flute music, she moves slowly and gracefully and sings songs in honour of "zamble".

Fischer, Eberhard & Lorenz Homberger, Die Kunst der Guro, Elfenbeinküste, Zürich 1985, ill.84-88 Fischer, Eberhard, Guro, Masks, Munich, Berlin, London, New York 2008, p. 352, ill. 356 Fischer, Eberhard & Lorenz Homberger, Afrikanische Meister, Kunst der
Barlovic (Ingo), "Tribal Art in Brüssel Ende Januar 2018 - ein persönlicher Rückblick", in: Kunst und Kontext, #14, 2018:30, fig.7

Brussels, Belgium: "Winter BRUNEAF. Brussels Non European Art Fair", 24-28 January 2018