Masque picoreur, Dogon
Dogon, Mali, 19ème siècle
Hauteur : 84 cm
Provenance : Alfons Bremel, Berlin
Very long ago, according to Dogon mythology, a woman stumbled across a group of masked supernatural
beings. Startled, they fled and left behind their masks and costumes, which the woman brought to her village. The men grew jealous, stole the masks from her, and made masking an exclusively male prerogative. The woman, called Yasigine (“sister of the masks”), is remembered by this type of mask—that’s her on top—representing the hornbill, whose picking of grains and stirring of dust is mimicked by the dancer during his performance.
The present mask, almost fossilized, appears to be an extremely ancient and fine example. The hieratic figure gives the impression to have climbed on top of the mask and overlook the ground with his head slightly turned down.
A comparable mask is visible in the collection of The MET, New York, accession n°1977.394.48a-b. Another variant of the same type of mask is in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, accession n° 95.1.
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