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Open Access

Mitsogho Mask

Artist: Unknown Gabonese Artist Primary
Date: ca. 1920-1930
20th century
Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 in. (22.86 x 16.51 cm)
Object Type: Mask
Creation Place: Africa, Gabon
Medium and Support: Wood and pigment
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Fass
Accession Number: 2018.14.01
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

The Mitsogo, or Tsogo people are an ethno-cultural group living in Gabon in West Africa. Masks like these, made of carved wood whitened with clay and adorned with red pigment, were sometimes used in ceremonies centered on ancestor worship.

Once an object is removed from its original cultural context it is very hard to know the intent of the maker. Was this mask carved for traditional ceremonial purposes? Or was it made to sell as a decorative object or souvenir for someone outside the community?


Purchased at auction at Parke-Bernet Galleries by Jacob Fass on June 19,1968 (Sale 2724, Lot#226); gift to Fairfield University 2003; transferred to the Fairfield University Art Museum collection in 2018.


Click a term to view other artwork with the same keyword

Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
twentieth century
Century in the proleptic Gregorian calendar including the years 1900 to 1999 (or 1901 to 2000).

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