Masques animaliers d’Afrique noire
Chantal Dewé and Gabriel Massa
Eighteen animal species in 144 masks are presented in this book, an assessment of an interesting private collection, following the death of its owner, Gabriel Massa, a few months ago at the age of 88. He served as a high ranking civil servant in Africa, and visited, among others, Dahomey, Upper-Volta, and Zaire, which have all lost their names since …Hyena, monkey or bird, each of these masks reproduces an animal and is charged with symbolism or a specific power. Nevertheless, the text is not really a wise dissertation as it prefers to step in the collector’s shoes and espouse his passions, from the Bamana hyena to the Ligbi wart hog, including the Mossi antelope. The legends describe the object in detail and replace it in its context: we thus discover the existence of a pilgrimage by the Gurunsi in Burkina-Faso to the pond to offer a sacrifice to the crocodile or the relationship of an elephant hood-mask and the secret societies with the Bamileke in Cameroon.
Review published in the newsletter #210 - from 31 March 2011 to 6 April 2011