Dan masks are sacred objects. Dan masks are used for protection and as a channel for communication with the spirit world. The Dan also carry small ‘passport masks ‘ for personal protection when they are living away from home.
These types of masks are made and worn exclusively, by male dancers and only carved by initiated members of the male Poro society. The mask served to protect the young initiate against destructive or evil forces from the time of initiation, till he one day enters the spirit realm.
Masks serve an important role in rituals or ceremonies with varied purposes like ensuring a good harvest, addressing tribal needs in time of peace or war, or conveying spiritual presences in initiation rituals or burial ceremonies. Some masks represent the spirits of deceased ancestors.
Dan, also called Gio or Yakuba, an ethnolinguistic grouping of people inhabiting the mountainous west-central Côte d’Ivoire and adjacent areas of Liberia. The Dan belong to the Southern branch of the Mande linguistic subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family.
For the Dan a mask is more than just a face covering. The complete mask costume is comprised of a headdress, wide skirt made of palm fiber, and a cloth cape, which completely cover the wearer, hiding his body and validating the myth that the mask is a spirit of the forest, not a human being.
The people who made the mask were either farmers or blacksmiths, depending on the region. The way they made it was to hand carve the mask out of wood with a non-blunt tool.
African masks are made from a range of different materials: wood, bronze, brass, copper, ivory, terra cotta and glazed pottery, raffia and textiles.
But the oldest African artifact that is definitely a mask is the highly realistic copper mask of the oni (leader) Obalufon, from the Ife kingdom of Nigeria (12th to 15th century). The eyeholes and the holes in the mask for strings of beads or raffia attachments indicate that it was worn in some ceremony.
Most African masks are fakes. If a mask measures up well to all of these, chances are you will have to pay a lot for it. The good news is that these high-quality pieces will most likely appreciate in value. Fakes, reproductions, tourist junk, and authentic-but-inferior masks are not a good investment.
10 Fascinating Cultural Masks from Around the World Venetian Carnival Masks. Worn during Carnival in Venice, these world-famous masks date back to the 13th century. Mexican Day of the Dead Masks. Chinese New Year Masks. Brazilian Carnival Masks. Filipino Dinagyang Masks. African Festima Masks. Bahamian Junkanoo Masks. Austrian Krampusnacht Festival Masks.
In the Biblical census of the Book of Numbers, the tribe of Dan is portrayed as the second largest Israelite tribe (after Judah).
The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin constitute the historical forbears of most of the Jewish People as it is known today.
Dan is situated in the area known as the Galilee Panhandle. To the west is the southern part of Mount Lebanon; to the east and north are the Hermon mountains.