Portrait Mask of a Woman (Ndoma)

early 20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

This mask was danced as part of an entertainment masquerade performance called ngblo. These ceremonies generally served no religious purpose and were associated with times of jubilation, though they have been recorded at funerals. The face seen here is an idealized portrait of a woman in the community who was greatly admired for her beauty and dancing skills. The mask would have been worn by a male relative, while the woman portrayed on the mask, or one of her female relatives, danced beside it. Such masks were typically named for their subject, and articles of her clothing were integrated into the dancer's costume. The identity of the woman honored by this example is currently unknown, though the style indicates that she lived in a village in the Bouake region of the Ivory Coast.


Wood and metal


12 × 8 × 4 1/2 in. (30.48 × 20.32 × 11.43 cm)

Credit Line

Purchased with a gift from Steven M. Kossak, B.A. 1972, and with the Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund

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.



René Rasmussen, Paris, unknown date–1979; Loudmer-Poulain, Paris, "Succession Rasmussen", Sale I, 14 December 1979, Lot 32. Jennifer Pinto Saffian, New York, unknown dates. Entwistle, London, unknown date–1996; Purchased by Yale University Art Gallery with a gift from Steven M. Kossak, 1996
  • Alain-Michel Boyer, Baule: Visions of Africa Series (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2007), 149, fig. 15.
  • Jessica Feinstein, "Art, Out of Africa," Yale Daily News (January 30, 2004), B1, ill.
  • "Acquisitions, January 1996–December 1997," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1997–98): 154, ill.
  • Susan Vogel, Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1997), 94, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, masks (costume)



Technical metadata and APIs

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