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African Art

Miniature Mask (Maa Go)

late 19th–early 20th century


3 × 2 × 1 in. (7.62 × 5.08 × 2.54 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art; Acc by the GB 12/14/55
Guinea Coast, Liberia
or geography Guinea Coast, Côte d’Ivoire
or geography Guinea
Dan or Mano
19th–20th century

Possibly Dr. George Way Harley (1894–1966) Ganta, Liberia [see note 1]; sold to Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 2]; 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.,1955

Note 1: George Way Harley, M.D. Yale University, 1923, was an American Methodist Medical Missionary who was the founder and superintendent of Ganta Mission, Ganta, Liberia between 1926–1960. He was a Research Associate in Anthropology at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University between 1932–1962 and he acquired many artworks for institutions and private collectors during this time. This work was possibly featured in the 1956 exhibition African Tribal Sculpture. In the accompanying publication (Plass 1956) Plass states that the featured group of miniature wooden masks in the Osborn collection were collected in Liberia by Dr. Harley. Louis T. Wells Jr. also states that Linton was an early customer of Dr. Harley (see Wells Jr., Louis. "The Harley Masks of Northeast Liberia" African Arts, Jan., 1977, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 22–27+91–92)

Note 2: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953. He paid Harley for unspecified objects in a letter dated May 30, 1952 (for letter see curatorial object file).

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.