TITLE: Guro Gu Mami Wata
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Côte d’Ivoire
ETHNICITY: Guro
DESCRIPTION: Mami Wata (Gu) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Celebration; Entertainment; Funeral
AGE: ca. 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Guro gu mask represents a beautiful young woman. It forms part of the trio of sacred masks with the zamble and zaouli. In the past, gu was the wife of zamble, but in modern rituals she is represented as the wife of his brother, zaouli. All three masks are cult objects to which sacrifices are periodically made to bring prosperity to the family that owns them and to drive away evil spirits.  They are danced for celebrations and as entertainment, and also at funerals and to honor ancestors.

The Mami Wata represented here is a water goddess important to many northwest African cultures. She is sometimes represented by a mermaid but is nearly always surrounded by snakes, as here.