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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Karan Wemba (elder/ancestor hiding behind something) mask

Karan Wemba (elder/ancestor hiding behind something) mask

Vibrant women at the height of their physical beauty are captured in mask form to honor wembe, the female elders of the Mossi. Masqueraders compliment the wembe by dancing at funerals. Such a respectful young woman escorts the spirit of the deceased out of the lineage compound to join the realm of the ancestors.
39 x 8 1/4 x 7 1/8 in. (99.1 x 21 x 18.1 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryLos Angeles, California, Frederick S Wight Gallery, University of California, African Art In Motion, January 20-March 17, 1974; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., April 21-July 30, 1974.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum. Extended loan. October 1983

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Praise Poems: The Katherine White Collection, July 29-September 29, 1984; Washington, D.C., National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, , October 31, 1984-February 25, 1985; Raleigh, North Carolina, April 6-May 19, 1985; Fort Worth, Texas, The Kimbell Art Museum, September 7-November 25, 1985; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, March 8-April 20, 1986.
Published ReferencesHammond, Peter B. Yatenga: Tachnology in the Culture of a West African Kingdom, New York (1966), p. 86-87+116-119+172-175+221-222.

Roy, Christopher D. African Art in the Stanley Collection, in African Arts, Vol. 16 No. 3 (May 1983), p. 32-46+79.

Roy, Christopher. Mossi Masks and Crests: PhD Dissertaion, Indiana University (1979), p. 136-160.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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