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Dan Sculpture of a Man - PF.6067
Origin: Liberia
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high
Collection: African
Style: Dan
Medium: Brass

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Like the gold weights of the Akan peoples and the heddle pulleys of the Baule and Senufo tribes, the bronze figures of the Dan are considered to be the exceptional case in the corpus of African art: art objects created for art’s sake. Void of any religious significance or ceremonial function, these realistically crafted sculptures were used by chieftains as purely decorative objects. The chieftain took pleasure in them as they are, appreciating the extraordinary beauty of the objects and the inherent skills of the craftsmanship. This sculpture of a man bears the stylistic signatures of Dan figurative art including the bulbous limbs and the planar feet and hands. His head is crowned by an elaborate cruciform hairstyle erupting from the center of her head that enhances the sense of his beauty. Such hairstyles also imply an elite status when one considers both the other person who must style the hair and the time-consuming labor involved in braiding. The decorative bands he wears just below his knees, his numerous bracelets, and his necklace with three banana-shaped pendants all imply his wealth and rank in society. Such a splendid masterpiece of sculpture needs no ceremonial or religious purpose to achieve its power. The force of this artwork is the art itself and the hand of the sculptor. Originally, this work was coveted as an object of beauty by chieftains of the Dan tribe. Today, we appreciate this same striking beauty much as the chieftains would have almost a century ago. - (PF.6067)

 

 

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