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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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

Gbagba - parodies and dances that are performed with Mblo masks