Mask (Kanaga)

early to mid-20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

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.


Wood, pigment, and fiber


43 1/16 × 24 3/8 × 6 15/16 in. (109.3 × 61.9 × 17.7 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art

Accession Number



20th century


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 records is ongoing.



Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 1]; 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.,1975

Note 1: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953.

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

Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, masks (costume)


birds (animals)

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.