A peek behind the mask

This issue of ceo Magazine draws a parallel between the old masters of woodcarving and the new, modern-day entrepreneurs of Africa. We switch perspectives and reveal what hides behind the masks. Africa? Yes; an entire continent, with 54 countries, more than 1,500 languages and enormous cultural diversity. Accompanying each article and story you will notice one of the following masks. They tell their own stories.

Kamer master
Mask with three birds’ heads

  • Ivory Coast, Baule region, around 1920
  • Private collection, New York
  • Provenance: Paul Guillaume, Paris, acquired before 1935

Memorial head of Nana Attabra

  • Akan peoples; Aowin traditional area, Nkwanta, Ghana, 18th century
  • Terracotta, 25 x 14.5 cm
  • Musée Dapper, Paris
    © Archives Musée Dapper

Master of the Duonu-GuroMask with mounted pair of figures

  • Ivory Coast, western Guro region, around 1920
  • Barbara and Eberhard Fischer collection
  • Provenance: Hans Himmelheber, acquired 1934

Unknown workshop of the Korhogo region
Kponyugu, helmet mask

  • Evory Coast, central Senufo region, around 1930
  • Museum Rietberg Zurich
  • Gift Rahn & Bodmer Banquiers
  • Provenance: Emil Storrer, acquired 1953

deangle, mask with female features

  • Liberia, western Dan region, Nyor Diaple ca. 1930
  • Collection Barbara and Eberhard Fischer
  • Provenance: Hans Himmelheber, acquired around 1950

Mask with female face and convex forehead

  • Ivory Coast, Wè (Wobe) region, around 1910
  • Museum Rietberg Zurich
  • Provenance: Charles Hug, before 1932

Head of an oba

  • Edo peoples; Court of Benin, Nigeria, 16th century
  • Brass, 23.5 x 21.9 x 22.9 cm
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    © The Photograph Studio, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Pwo mask

  • Chokwe peoples; Angola, around 1820
  • Wood, fiber, metal, 26 x 16.5 x 26 cm
  • Private collection
    © by the owner


  • Yoruba; Ife, Nigeria, 12th–15th century
  • Terracotta
    © Musée Barbier-Mueller, Geneva

Master of the Poyo style Baàthíl, head on stake

  • Burkina Faso, Gongombili region, around 1920
  • Collection François and Marie Christiaens

Master of the Concave Face
Kodal, mask

  • Ivory Coast, central or northern Senufo region, before 1900
  • Museum Rietberg Zurich
  • Gift Novartis
  • Provenance: Roger Bédiat, before 1939


  • Yoruba peoples; Ife, Nigeria, 12th–15th century
  • Terracotta, 31.1 x 14.6 x 18.4 cm
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
    © Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota