TITLE: Bassa Geh-Naw
TYPE: forehead mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
ETHNICITY: Bassa
DESCRIPTION: Geh-Naw Nor Society Forehead Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nor Society
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Celebration; Secret Society
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: hardwood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Bassa people inhabit the central coastal region of Liberia. They have several secret societies for both males and females, and some societies have socially important masking functions. The geh-naw mask is used by the Nor Society.  It is fixed to a wicker framework and worn on the forehead over a cloth and raffia costume during adult initiation ceremonies for boys. The dancer glides around to the beat of drums, seeing only through holes in the basketry sustaining the mask.

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TITLE: Grebo War Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
ETHNICITY: Grebo
DESCRIPTION: War Plank Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Funeral; War Preparation
AGE: ca. 2000
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: raffia; wicker; cotton cloth; pigment; feathers; hardware; hair

The Grebo people of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire were formerly governed by a chief-priest who lived in near total isolation. Historically, they chipped their teeth to make them appear sharper and more ferocious. In modern times, Grebo governance has become more fluid and tooth chipping is very rare.

The Grebo use several types of masks, some used for adult initiation or religious ceremonies. The most commonly seen is the war mask, used by warrior societies and formed in the shape of a plank with cylindrical eyes, numbering between two and twelve. The mask is danced in preparation for war and at the funerals of warriors.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 15 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a masquerader of the Bamileke people of Cameroon. This mask is used by the Kuosi Society, attendants to the chief (fon), and represents the much respected elephant.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 2 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a mask from the Eastern Pende (Bapende) ethnic group of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).  The mask is a panya ngombe, representing a buffalo, an animal associated with dignity and authority.  Such masks could belong solely to chiefly lines and were used at adult initiation of boys after their circumcision.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 20 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a mask from the Pende ethnic group of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).  The mask represented is a minganji, a plant fiber and wood helmet used in adult initiation and funeral rituals.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 25 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a masquerader of the Bamileke people of Cameroon. This mask is used by the Kuosi Society, attendants to the chief (fon), and represents the much respected elephant.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 3 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a mask from the Dogon ethnic group of Mali.  The Dogon have a very wide variety of mask types, some of wood and others of plant fiber.  The mask is a bede helmet, made predominantly of plant fiber and cowrie shells.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 5 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a mask from the Baule people of Côte d’Ivoire.  The Baule have a variety of mask types; this one is a mblo mask, representing a portrait of a respected villager or ancestor, and is generally used for entertainment purposes.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 6 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a mask from the Winiama people of Burkina Faso.  The Winiama, like their Bwa and Gurunsi kin, have a highly recognizable mask style, with prominent use of white and red pigments and geometric designs.  The eyes are usually represented by large concentric circles to convey the highly spiritual nature of the animal represented.  Like most Winiama masks, this probably represents a mythical beast with characteristics of many animals, including antelope and bird.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Liberia
YEAR PRINTED: 1971
VALUE: 9 cents

This stamp is one of a set of eight celebrating traditional masks of African peoples, none of which strangely is found in Liberia. This stamp depicts a masquerader of the Dan people of Côte d’Ivoire. The masquerader belongs to the Poro Society, which is responsible for the adult initiation of boys and maintaining social order generally. This mask is sometimes called a “racer” mask and emphasizes the Society’s function of vigilance for the safety of the village.

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