Masks made by Songye artists represent either male or female beings. In female masks, such as this one, white clay predominates, and the form of the head crest is rounded. Male masks, in contrast, are decorated with red, black, and white pigments and have a ridge along the crest. In both mask types, angular and thrusting forms project the mouth, nose, and forehead far beyond the facial plane.
Patterns of geometric grooves are unique to these masks. The striations on this example are particularly noteworthy; the artist has used them to balance, and emphasize, the elegant curvature of each of the basic forms in this highly abstracted face.
The object is a female mask with projecting mouth, triangular nose, pierced eyes, overall concentric linear carving, and polychrome pigment. Condition is excellent. Two small holes made in back at a previous time for suspending wire through the mask's widest point. Separate mount.