This mask from the northern Guro represents gu, the wife of zamble, the antelope, in the most celebrated of their mythological masquerades. These masks are very popular, and their appearances are welcomed, the more so because only the most accomplished dancers are entrusted with wearing them. Compared with UEA 213, this example is conceived in a slender, even coquettish mode; the type is among the narrowest of all Guro masks, as is confirmed in a review of the 135 masks in an exhibition at the Rietburg Museum, Zurich (Fischer and Homberger, 1985).
The slenderness of the design helps to place emphasis on the topknot. This is held in place by four square motifs which are identified as leather-covered Koranic charms worn to bring good luck. Fischer and Homberger (1985: fig. 23) illustrate a woman with her hair in a topknot similarly bound with amuletic charms; the five ‘fingers’ below the topknot must be hair braids converging on the crown.
Margaret Carey, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) p. 126.
Acquired by Lisa Sainsbury from Sydney Burney as a gift for Robert Sainsbury before 1939.
Donated to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia in 1973 as part of the original gift.
More from the collection
Head with Line Device
Ballpoint pen ink, Paper, Pastel, Pencil
Unframed: (h. 488 x w. 398 mm) Framed: (h. 272 x w. 522 x d. 33 mm)