Mask (glewa)

We peoples
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Liberia or Cote d'Ivoire


Overall: 37 x 18.2 x 21 cm (14 9/16 x 7 3/16 x 8 1/4 in.) (with mouth open)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, metal, pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



“Glewa” or “gle va” - dispute-settling or judging mask. Before the introduction of legal systems based on European models, these impressive maskers were called upon to settle major disputes and conflicts between villages. Nowadays they adjudicate cases that fall outside the jurisdiction of government courts and assure that people fulfill their obligations to one another. The double set of long protruding eyes, the triangular projecting cheeks with incised lines on the outside, and the aggressively projecting horns on the prominent forehead are familiar features of these masks.


2 white adhesive labels (1 inside back, 1 under jaw): "12(69); red plastic label under jaw: "69"; white label removed from R side: "D17"; white cloth tape label at TC back: "11"; printed white paper label TL back: "45"; white red bordered label C back in red ink:"D24"; in marker TC back:"D24"; in marker C back:"DA17"


1960s, acquired in Paris by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart