Ceremonial mask ”Guro”
Guro people, Ivory Coast, early 20th century, private collection from Finland.
Guro people (called also Gouro or Kweni) are people of the Côte d'Ivoire, in the valley regions of the Bandama River. The Guro who are part of the larger Mande ethnic group in west Africa can be found primarily in the areas of Haut-Sassandra and Marabone. The Guro originally called themselves Kweni, their name ”Guro” was given to them by their neighboring Baule people. The Guro culture is closely related to that Baule as a result of deep interaction between them. Although formerly the major male occupation was hunting, the Guro are now basically agriculturalists. Crops include plantain, rice, and yams, their cash crops include coffee, cocoa and cotton.
The Guro people are very traditional and believe in their ancient culture. They retain their own religion, involving many cults and deities. An earth master makes sacrifices to the earth for benefit of the village and its inhabitants. Each village also has diviner who is consulted before important decisions are made. They have male and female secret societies which people are initiated into. The male society is called "Je" and the female one is "Kne". The tribal life is mostly regulated by the ”Je” society. This male secret society is a group of elders and and wealthy men who oversee almost all facets of village life, from celebrations to funerals, to agricultural rites to judical proceeding.
Masks are by for the most famous artform of the Guro people. The ”Je” society that guards and employs all of Guro masks. Guro masks are full of hidden tribal meanings and some of them are considered fatal for women to behold. The Guro masks have some characteristics which make them quite easy to identify, although some of the more refined and subtle ones can be confused with their neighbors the Baule and Yaure.
This gorgeous Guro mask are in good condition. Beautiful heavy patina suggests long history of ritual use. Age-related wear. Traces of dirt, dust and soil. Size approx. 26,0cm x 17,0cm.