Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

19th and 20th Century African Art: Portrait Mask (Mblo)

Identification

Owie Kimou, Portrait Mask (Mblo) of Moya Yanso (Baule peoples)

Context

The design of the mask was influenced by the artistic style of traditional Baule masks. The artist, Owie Kimou, lived with the Baule people and adopted their culture and mask making techniques.

Content

The subject of the mask is Moya Yanso, who is being idealized. This is because the six tubular pieces at the top of the mask symbolize her beauty and morality. 

Map Image

Works Cited/ Resources

Khan Academy

Gardner Textbook

Form

The portrait mask is carved from wood, covered with brass decorations, and is painted with pigment. Some visual elements of art are repetition and contrast.

Function

The function of this work was to honor Moya Yanso, a respected member of Baule society. Owie Kimou, a mask maker, was commissioned to carve this mask for Yanso. This mask was made to be danced by a male dancer at a secular masquerade for the Baule people.

Vocabulary

Mblo mask - one of the two types of Baule entertainment masks

Gbagba - parodies and dances that are performed with Mblo masks