On a stand
- Ernst Speidel, Männedorf, Switzerland
- Schweizer Privatsammlung, Luzern, Switzerland
- Jean David, Galerie Walu, Zurich, Switzerland
- Private collection, London, UK
The present mask is a beautiful, old example of a ‘fire runner’ or ‘Zakpai mask’
Masks such as the present one are known as ‘fire runner masks’ because they were worn by young men who ran through the villages of the Dan dressed in full body costumes in order to extinguish ‘forgotten’ stove fires while the women were at work in the fields.
The Dan believe that ‘in’ and behind’ this world exists an essential force called dü which is usually described as a power that is present in all aspects of the world. Dü manifests itself as invisible spirits which may take the form of men or animals. There are some dü spirits which in order to realise a physical nature, must rely on men to create a tangible form for them as masks or fetishes. The dü causes a man to dream of it and then instructs him in the means through which it must be materialised. One type of dü spirit prefers to be manifested as a masquerade - these are the mask spirits.
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