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African Art

Do Mask Depicting a Noble or Muslim Elder

late 19th–early 20th century

Wood with pigment

14 × 5 1/4 × 3 3/4 in. (35.56 × 13.34 × 9.53 cm)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
This mask, with an ornate hairstyle that is reminiscent of Islamic ornaments, belongs to one of the few masking traditions in African Muslim communities. The Ligbi were a cosmopolitan people who prospered in the eighteenth century because of their involvement in an extensive trade network. Along with neighboring groups, they practice a hybrid religion combining Islamic and pre-Islamic beliefs, expressed in the activities of Do, an organization that preserved public order and participated in funerals. Heads of the Muslim Ligbi community or imams kept the masks, which appeared during the most important Islamic festivals.
Bondoukou, Côte d’Ivoire
or Ghana
19th–20th century

Gaston de Havenon, New York, 1965
Dr. and Mrs. Ernst Anspach, New York from 1965 (owned during 1969-1970 The Innovative African Sculptor exhibition)
Michael Oliver, New York, unknown dates
Daniel and Marian Malcolm, New Jersey from December 1989
Purchased by Yale University Art Gallery from Sotheby’s New York, Auction on May 7, 2016


George Nelson Preston, The Innovative African Sculptor (Ithaca, NY: Ethnographic Arts Publications, 1969), 48, fig. 111.

Ulrich Klever, Bruckmann’s Handbuch der Afrikanischen kunst (Munich: München Bruckmann, 1975), 173, fig. 144.

“Acquisitions July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/bulletin/Pub-Bull-acquisitions-2017.pdf (accessed December 1, 2017).

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.