Lot: 182

98th Auction

Anthropomorphic face mask "gu"

Côte d'Ivoire, Guro, Master of Gohitafla

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Butterfield and Butterfield (ca.1965)
Private American Collection (1965-2018)
Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium
German Private Collection
H: 11.8 inch 20000 EUR
plus 27 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, pigments, with transport box

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.

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

Eberhard Fischer confirmed in October 2018 that this mask is the work of the Master of Gohitafla. Eberhard Fischer inspected the work in person while he was visiting in 2018 the auction house in Würzburg.

A special Japanese-style transport box has been made for the mask, which is part of the offer. This was customary in Paris in the 1930s for valuable works that were shipped to America. In the collection of the Penn Museum some of these exclusive transport boxes still exist today. On the underside of this box there is a label with import number for the USA "436146" (and US customs stamp).

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

Together with the animal-faced "zamble" and his brother "zauli", "gu" forms a group of sacred masks. "Gu" is considered to be "zamble's" wife and is always depicted as a beautiful young woman.

The masks are owned by respected families and are passed down from generation to generation. As well as being worn at funeral-like ceremonies, they are also donned in celebration, to resolve disputes and unmask wizards.

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

Winterbruneaf, At the Ancienne Nonciature, 23.01.2019 - 27.01.2019