Senofu Kpelie Mask

 

 

KPELIE MASK
20TH CENTURY

Senofu peoples, Ivory Coast
Brass, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.
Extended Loan Bernald Family Collection
L2003.043.030

The kpelie face mask is used in ancestor (kpelie) rituals by the Poro, or Lo, secret sociey of the Senofu peoples. Although mainly worn by men, the kpelie represents female perfection and is used to depict the great mother, the ancestor of all and the giver of life, according to Poro philosophy. The projections at the top of this mask represent the horns of a bull, while the lateral projections at the sides refer to the stylized hair arrangements of Senofu mothers. The "legs" at the bottom of the mask serve to connect it to the earth. Kpelie were used not only in initiation rituals, but also in agricultural ceremonies and funerary rites.

 


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