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African Art
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Mask Representing a Chimpanzee (Kaogle)

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood and encrustation

8 7/8 × 3 15/16 × 6 1/8 in. (22.5 × 10 × 15.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1959.72.7
Kaogle masks, with their exaggerated cubistic features, are used to provide rowdy entertainment and to incite the young men of the village to work out their aggression in dance. The free-for-all is accompanied by palm-wine drinking, a slit-gong orchestra, and singers. The animalistic movements of the masked dancers parallel the unpredictable actions of the ape, teaching good behavior by acting out its inverse. Adorned with a cotton wig, bunches of leaves, or short feathers, the mask is worn with a floor-length gown of raffia and a mantle of cotton cloth.
Geography: 
Guinea Coast, Liberia
or geography Guinea Coast, Côte d’Ivoire
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Dan
Period: 
19th–20th century
Classification: 
Masks
Provenance: 

Dr. George Way Harley (1894–1966) Ganta, Liberia, by 1950 [see note 1]; Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1952 [see note 2]; by descent to his wife, Adelin Hohlfield Linton (1899–1977); sold to Marie-Louise Montgomery Osborn (1905–1968) and James Marshall Osborn (1906–1976), 1954; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1959

Note 1: George Way Harley, M.D. Yale University, 1923, was an American Methodist Medical Missionary who was the founder and superintendent of Ganta Mission, Ganta, Liberia between 1926–1960. He was a Research Associate in Anthropology at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University between 1932–1962 and he acquired many artworks for institutions and private collectors during his time.

Note 2: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953. He paid Harley for unspecified objects in a letter dated May 30, 1952 (for letter see curitorial object file)

Bibliography: 

Jessica Feinstein, “Art, Out of Africa,” Yale Daily News (January 30, 2004), B1, ill.

Ralph Linton, The Linton Collection of African Sculpture: An Exhibition, March 13 through April 18, 1954, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1954), no. 25, ill.

Ladislas Segy, African Sculpture Speaks (New York: A.A. Wyn, Inc, 1952), 101, fig. 69.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.