Dan Female Figure On Custom Base Côte d'Ivoire
The Dan numbering about 350,000, live as farmers in small villages and towns in Northwest Liberia and eastern Ivory-Coast. Sculpted female figures among the Dan or Yacuba are commissioned by wealthy or socially prominent men to represent their favored wife. Sometimes sculpted with a baby on their back the figures exemplify the ideas of fertility and continuity of the family. These figures are known as ‚Äòlu me' or wooden person and can be over 60 centimeters in height. They do not portray ancestors but are stylized portraits of real individuals closely representing the hairstyle, body markings, and physiognomy of the wife. These sculptures are superb examples of Dan sculpture and were often the work of well-known artists who worked in secret away from women and children as they carved the lu me figures. In some instances ‚Äòlu me' sculptures are made public to the village during a ceremony in which the man who commissioned the carving is recognized and gaining social prestige. These figures may also be kept in small houses and only publicly shown on special occasions.
The Dan people, also known as the Yacouba, are one of the major ethnic groups inhabiting the western part of Côte d'Ivoire, as well as parts of Liberia and Guinea. They are renowned for their intricate craftsmanship and artistic expressions, with the Dan mask being a prominent example of their exceptional skills.
The Dan mask represents more than just a decorative object; it embodies the spiritual essence and cultural identity of the Dan people. It serves as a visual representation of their history, mythology, and collective memory. The masks are revered as sacred objects and are handled with great respect and reverence.
In recent years, the Dan art has gained recognition beyond its cultural context. It has become sought after by art collectors and enthusiasts worldwide, who appreciate its aesthetic beauty and cultural significance.