shows around the world
L. Pescador, 1995
Bete, Gre (Gle)
(Ivory Coast, Issia Region)
- Wood, sacrificial encrustations, magic substances, horse hair, shells,
fangs, metal studs, handbells, iron, coins, h cm 28.
(private collection, Bergamo).
ex Antoine Ferrari de la Salle collection, ex
Alain de Monbrison collection.
Mask during dance published
in: A. Fantoni, I.G.A., Novara, 1960 (See photograph.)
The Bete people were a
population of about three hundred and seventy thousand, sub-divided into
several groups where no centralized system of power existed. Primarily
hunters, but also farmers, the group settled in the South-West of the
Ivory Coast along the Sassandra river.
The Bete lived in
widespread villages where they cohabited as many different clans, each of
which had a totemic animal of protection which could neither be killed nor
With its overly dilated
nostrils and protruding features skillfully arranged in horizontal planes,
and often decorated with metal studs, the powerful “gre” or “gle” mask
materialized and expressed the strength of the terrible forest spirits.
The esoteric dance
performed with the wearing of the mask was enhanced by the sound of a
beating drum, and could be fully understood only by the initiates.
Bete maskers appeared for
participation in village trials, funeral ceremonies, parties with
neighboring villages and for the celebration of the return of peace after
J. P. Dozon, La Société Beté, Paris,
A. Fantoni, La spedizione Permaflex in
Costa d’Avorio, Novara, I.G.A. 1960
H. Holas, Masques
Ivoriennes, Abidjan, C.S.H., 1969.
D. Paume, Une société de Cote-d’Ivoire hier
et aujourd-hui: les Bété, Paris, La Haye, 1962
A.P. Rood, Bete masked
dance, in African Arts, II, 3, 1969.