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After the Wê mask in Ivory Coast: preliminary study about its origin, symbolism and value as element of communication

Author(s): Victòria Medina | Dr. Théophile Koui

Journal: Coolabah
ISSN 1988-5946

Volume: 3;
Start page: 235;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Côte d’Ivoire Masks | Wê Ceremony | Oral tradition

The mask is a sign of cultural identity par excellence in the Wê society of theIvory Coast and plays a very important role in traditional ceremonies. Its meaning, if weframe it in the ritual social and religious context, can only be understood by thisparticular African community. The mask constitutes the bridge between the visible andthe invisible world. It is unique – and used as a specific language in its diverserepresentations– it makes communication between both universes possible. It is theconnection between the world of the Gods and human beings. Beyond the religious ormagical motivations, the mask is a receiver of vital forces; its wearer, assumes anidentity different from his own which is expressed by means of long standingceremonial rites. In the present preliminary work we will discuss: (1) the specificity ofthe concept of the mask among the Wê, (2) the esoteric and religious role of the Wêmask as an element of communication and (3) its relation with the collective beliefs andthe cult to the ancestors.
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