The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Masquerades Among the Dan People

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

Korto (deangle mask), Dan artist, Liberia. February 1986. Photo by William Siegmann.

Deangle masks have oval faces with slit-like eyes. Their characteristic behavior is graceful and gentle and they represent the Dan ideal of beauty. Other canons of beauty are illustrated by the full lips with a few teeth showing in the partially open mouth and the elegant curve of the forehead. The eyes are nearly closed conveying a sense of serenity. A band of white clay across the eyes represents the cosmetic decoration used by women as adornment on special occasions. The white cowry shells which form a band on the forehead of this mask symbolize wealth and prestige and the honor which is given to the mask.