The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Masquerades Among the Dan People

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

Deangle mask (Korto=“You don’t make farm”), Dan artist, Liberia. February 1986. Photo by William Siegmann.

Deangle masks are meant to give pleasure and comfort to the community. Their most basic function is to serve as intermediaries during initiation rites between the boys in the “bush school” camps and their mothers in the town. In addition, however, many are also either singers or dancing masks. This dancing mask is named “Korto,” a popular woman’s name. The name translates as “you don’t make farm” meaning that the mask is so beautiful to watch that it serves as a distraction and keeps people from their work.