Bassa Seated Female Figure Liberia
The Bassa have several female and male societies, including chu-den-zo, to whom gela (geh-naw). The Bassa are relatives of the Dan, who live to their northeast, mostly in Cote d'Ivoire. They have absorbed much from Dan culture, including the usage and appearance of their arts. Occupying the geographic center of Liberia, the Bassa live in scattered small villages, and cultivate rice and other crops. They do not have a centralized government or paramount chief, and depend on secret societies like the "Poro" to maintain order and social cohesion. Masks are the primary modes of expression for the Bassa, as well as their Mande relatives, and figures are rare and poorly documented. What is known is that statues are reportedly carved to honor "favorite wife," or other important family member or ancestor. These figures served to honor women of good character and generous spirit. They were hidden and not, as far as we know, used ritually by the village as a whole. They are personal in nature, and thus each one has a unique meaning.