The prominent, protruding triangular cheekbones and the recessed triangular eye openings of this ghost mask indicate that it is a Kagle mask. The mask has an overhanging forehead, a large open mouth but no chin. The craftsman carved ornaments into the cheeks.
History behind the mask
At the border between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia live the Dan people.
The Dan believe that “in” and “behind” this world exists an essential force called Dü. Dü manifests as invisible spirits that can take the form of humans or animals. There are some dü spirits that, in order to realise a physical nature, rely on humans to give them a tangible form as masks or figures. The dü makes a person dream of it and then instructs them in the means by which it must materialise. One type of dü spirit prefers to manifest as a masquerade – these are the mask spirits. It is the male performers, gle-zo, who experience a dream sent by the mask spirit that allows them to dance it.
Kagle masks are “troublemakers” whose unpredictable movements and aggressive behaviour are supposed to disrupt village festivals. The “troublemaker” should symbolise the brutal power of the bush and wild, non-human creatures to teach the value of order and discipline through his negative example.
The kagle mask is worn today to entertain the village and create a lively and festive atmosphere by throwing sticks into the crowd while dancing.