TITLE: Guro Gu Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Côte d’Ivoire
DESCRIPTION: Gu Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCI005
CEREMONY: Celebration; Entertainment; Funeral
AGE: ca. 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based 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 zaouli, and therefore zamble‘s mother. 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 gu represents a divinity, but her dance careens about, stamping her feet incessantly. She wears bells on her ankles to accentuate her foot movements and dances to the music of a few flutes.
This mask was made for the tourist trade, but it displays the exceptional skill and artistry typical of guro master carvers. The elaborate hair style is an important element of the gu‘s appeal.
For more on Guro masking traditions, see Eberhard Fischer, Guro (Prestel, 2008) or Anne-Marie Bouttiaux, Guro (5 Continents Editions, 2016).