Grebo Mask Four Tubular Eyes Horns Côte d'Ivoire
The Grebo live in southeast Liberia at the border with the Ivory-Coast, with the Bassa people on their west and the Bete and We to their east in the Ivory-Coast. Grebo masks are best known for their influence on early western modern art being found in the collection of Picasso who obtained a Grebo mask from his dealer Kahnweiler in Paris. There is no doubt as to the influence of the Grebo style mask upon the development of western art for they are a complete example of geometry in sculpture with the flat face, square mouth, rounded forehead, triangular nose and tubular eyes.
The startling geometry of this mask with the double lines of tube shaped eyes each, flanking the strong profile of the nose under the large bulging forehead and protruding lips is indeed a tour-de-force of sculpture. Little is known about the use of masks among the Grebo other than the fact that they are said to have been worn during wars by leaders as a kind of military costume. The masks were worn by the leaders of a warrior's age set lead and terrify the enemy. Though not worn for warfare today they are worn at the funeral ceremonies of elders. Such masks were worn on the face as seen in the eyeholes drilled on either side of the nose or on each side of the eyes. In the past, other larger Grebo masks were worn on the top of the head as a kind of helmet.