Masquerades Among the Dan People

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

Kagle mask named Slu (“hawk”), Dan peoples, Liberia. February 1986. Photo by William Siegmann.

Slu is one of the most famous dancers in the southern Dan region. It does not sing but does perform elaborate pantomimes, which are extremely funny. They ridicule and poke fun at the foibles and pomposities of prominent individuals as well as stereotypic personality types such as the lazy farmer. All of this is done with impunity and serves as a kind of reality check on people in the community by admonishing them and bringing them in line with community expectations.