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The Art of the Guro

03/25/2009 17:38

Face Mask (Gu) | Guro peoples | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Guro masks from the Ivory Coast are highly valued around the world. They capture the respected beauty of the Guro people. Guro masks have two distinguishing marks: the face of the human mask is usually longer while the forehead and bridge of the nose form an elegant S-shaped profile. Many times there are tattoo carvings on the cheeks or forehead in short protruding marks. Guro men often have these tattoos on their faces. Also noticeable are almond shaped eyes, rounded foreheads, finely sculpted mouths with small but sprouting lips. Hairdos and headdress are detailed and elaborate. Guro masks are also famous for having both human and animal characteristics. Elephant's years, a bird's head, or horns are some examples of commonly used animal features in Guro masks. Guro masks are considered sacred, as they represent the spirit of Gu, the wife of Zamble a supernatural being. Gu is usually depicted as elegant, graceful, serene and beautiful. The guro masks are used and honored during sacrificial gatherings, funerals, and celebrations. They honor protective spirits called "zuzu" while the spirits are housed in shrines. The Guro tribe was originally called "Kweni", but during 1906-1912 they were brutally colonized by invading French colonies. The dominant Baoule people of the region then named them the Guro tribe. 

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