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African Art

Mask (Kanaga)

early to mid-20th century

Wood, pigment, and fiber

43 1/16 × 24 3/8 × 6 15/16 in. (109.3 × 61.9 × 17.7 cm)
Gift of James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1975.126.1
The Kanaga mask is surmounted by a vertical structure that represents a bird and also refers to the arms and legs of the creator God, Amma, and to the structure of the universe: the upper horizontal bar is the sky and the lower one the earth. All Dogon masks belong to a men’s masking association called Awa (Cosmos) and are used primarily in the funerary ceremony known as Dama. The purpose of Dama, in which more than seventy masks are known to have appeared at the same time, is to transport the soul and to honor the family of the deceased. Today, the Dogon also perform the Kanaga masquerade for tour groups in Mali.
Geography: 
Made in Sahel, Mali
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Dogon
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Masks
Provenance: 

Dr. Ralph Linton, Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale, unknown date–1953
James M. Osborn donated to Yale University Art Gallery for the Linton Collection of African Art

Bibliography: 

Jessica Feinstein, “Art, Out of Africa,” Yale Daily News (January 30, 2004), B4, ill.

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.