SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery is closed to the public until further notice. Learn More

African Art

Portrait Mask of a Woman (Ndoma)

early 20th century

Wood and metal

12 × 8 × 4 1/2 in. (30.48 × 20.32 × 11.43 cm)
Purchased with a gift from Steven M. Kossak, B.A. 1972, and with the Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
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.
Possibly made in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Coast
On view
20th century

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


“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.

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

Alain-Michel Boyer, Baule: Visions of Africa Series (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2007), 149, fig. 15.

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.