Mask (Ga Wree Wree)

Photo: Paul Macapia

Mask (Ga Wree Wree)

1850 - 1980

Time travel is evoked by this weathered mask -- one might wish the bells could ring and take us back to when it appeared in its prime. We could witness the masquerader presiding over a court of heated debate, giving serious attention to his role as a judge who "could stop all war."

A spray of hairpins crown this judge's face, and were donated to him by women of the community. A very similar Dan mask was observed demanding impeccable behavior by scholar Robert Farris Thompson in 1967. He went on to write, "Order can, of course, be imposed by brute authority. But traditional Dan seek social control achieved through artistic and philosophic means -- through a cult of masks."
Wood, teeth, bone, metal, cowrie shells, bells, beads, fiber, netting, and cloth
19 11/16 x 12 1/2 x 11 in. (50 x 31.8 x 28 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Provenance: [Merton D. Simpson Gallery, New York]; purchased from gallery by Katherine White (1929-1980), Seattle, Washington, 1968; bequeathed to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 1981
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryCleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, African Tribal Images: The Katherine White Reswick Collection, July 10 - Sept. 1, 1968 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Oct. 10 - Dec. 1, 1968). Text by William Fagg. Cat. no. 58.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, African Sculpture, organized by the International Exhibitions Foundation, Jan. 29 - Mar. 1, 1970 (Kansas City, Missouri, William Rockhill Neslon Gallery, Mar. 21 - Apr. 26, 1970; Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Museum, May 26 - June 21, 1970). No cat. no., p. 14.

Los Angeles, California, Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, African Art in Motion: Icon and Act, Jan. 20 - Mar. 17, 1974 (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, May 5 - Sept. 22, 1974). Text by Robert Farris Thompson. No cat. no., p. 158, reproduced color pl. VII.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Praise Poems: The Katherine White Collection, July 29 - Sept. 29, 1984 (Washington, D.C., National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Oct. 31, 1984 - Feb. 25, 1985; Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Apr. 6 - May 19, 1985; Fort Worth, Texas, Kimbell Art Museum, Sept. 7 - Nov. 25, 1985; Kansas City, Missouri, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Mar. 8 - Apr. 20, 1986). Text by Pamela McClusky. Cat. no. 44, pp. 96-97, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Art from Africa: Long Steps Never Broke a Back, Feb. 7 - May 19, 2002 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 2004 - Jan. 2, 2005; Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Feb. 12 - June 19, 2005; Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Oct. 8, 2005 - Jan. 1, 2006; Nashville, Tennessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Jan. 27 - Apr. 30, 2006 [as African Art, African Voices: Long Steps Never Broke a Back]). Text by Pamela McClusky. No cat. no., pp. 185-6, reproduced pl. 82.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, June 18 - Sept. 7, 2015 (Los Angeles, California, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Oct. 18, 2015 - Mar. 13, 2016; Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Museum, Apr. 29 - Sept. 18, 2016).
Published ReferencesMcClusky, Pamela. African Art: From Crocodiles to Convertibles in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1987; cat. no. 14, pp. 26-27, reproduced.

Cameron, Elisabeth L. "Men Portraying Women: Representations in African Masks." African Arts, vol. 31, no. 2 [Special Issue: Women's Masquerades in Africa and the Diaspora] (Spring 1998): pp. 72, 79, reproduced.

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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