TRIBAL AFRICAN ART

MANO (also see related Dan, Geh, Guerre-Wobo and Grebo)

Mano people live in Liberia and southernmost Guinea and their lives are dominated by the powerful men's secret society, poro, and the women's secret society, sande. Their masks, representing a spirit (ge), have special names, the belief being that it was the mask, not the man, which performs the specific ritual function. Poro masquerades are not always frightening. In many Mano communities the guardian of poro initiation is a beautiful female masquerade, honored as the mother of all other masked spirits, who appears to boys as they enter the poro enclosure. She gathers food and supplies during the boys' seclusion, and may convey news to their families. Even though this female spirit is animated by a man, it is usually owned by the woman who is the only female elder allowed within the initiation center.   Mano masks often display red fabric decorations.  

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