Dan

The Dan people live in the region in the North-West of Ivory Coast and in the North-East of Liberia. They have developed a complex agricultural system which exploits great variety of soils found in the area they live. The Dan people spend most of their time involved in agricultural activity. The patterns of social life are dominated by the agricultural needs of the moment. One traditional indication of the beginning of this annual cycle is the appearance of the constellation of the Pleiades, or "the hen and her chickens" which occurs at the beginning of June. The Dan have a regular system of markets at which agricultural products are sold or exchanged. The Dan vision of the world is divided into two major parts - the village (settlement) which is a home of humans and domestic animals and the forest - home of spirits and wild animals. The crossing of the border between these two worlds can be very dangerous and requires having a materials from the both of the worlds.
The masks are one of most important art forms of Dan people. It has several roles in the society - to entertain, to depict a forest spirits, to maintain a social control. The masks are worn by male dancers and carved by initiated members of the male Poro society. Further it can be divided into two groups: Gle Mu, the feminine masks and Gle Gon, the masculine masks. Dan masks belong to a complex hierarchy classified according to the function. Masks with narrow slit eyes are worn during the day often as means of protecting boys in the initiation bush camp of Poro society.

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