Remarkable Gouro mask, with bright colors
Almond eyes dominate the elegantly elongated nose, while the small mouth overcomes a fine beard. To make the mask even more streamlined and harmonious there’s the headdress, from which emerge two large horns, a sign of strength and virility; at its base, there is a long-neck antelope head, which gives a perfect balance to the whole. In this mask, we find all the features of the Gouro artworks, such as color, horns, zoomorphic representation and elegance of the features.
The ethnic group Guro (or Gouro) usually depicts five kinds of animals: the antelope, the hyena, the leopard, the crocodile and the elephant. These animals are mostly found in the savannah and tropical forest, where the tribe live. Guro’s craftsmanship embraces imageries tied to the land and to agrarian practices. The symbolism of the animals featured on their masks derives from these. The antelope is beloved for its grace and speed. The hyena is regarded as smart and resourceful. The leopard connotes power, bravery and enterprise. The crocodile is regarded as the king of the marshes. The elephant is believed to be royal and loyal.
The figurative art of the Gouro ethnic group, one of the people present in the Ivory Coast, recalls the Baulé’s art, because of the fine details and the beauty of their masks. These masks present symbols of virility, such as fangs and horns (which are not added later but which are designed together with the rest of creation, being the mask cut out from a single piece of wood). Also notable are the flashy colored surfaces. Many of these masks are not sacred but conceived for the people; the artist is therefore free to vent his artistic expression, realizing phenomenal artifacts, rich in details and nuances.