The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Masquerades Among the Dan People

by William Siegmann (1943 - 2011)
Formerly The Brooklyn Museum

Boys with mask, Dan artist, Liberia. February 1986. Photo by William Siegmann.

Among a boy's earliest memories are the dramatic ceremonies at which masks preside. Even at a very young age boys begin to make masks, often of leaves or cloth.  Young drummers and other assistants accompany the masks and together they form entertainment groups, which are rewarded for their performances with gifts of food or money. For the boys, these early experiences begin a long process of learning the rules and values of adult society.