This is a large 19th century mask from Liberia, attributed to the Toma people. It has many characteristics of masks of the neighboring Grebo people, including the cylindrical protrusions from its cheeks, but the Toma mask here is known as Nyanbai, the wife of Landai, the great forest spirit. Nyanbai was worn over the male dancer's face and was danced at initiation rites, important funerary services, and in times of crisis. This rare example is distinguished by its large size (54 cm long) minimalistic and powerful treatment of facial features, and its considerable age. Outstanding surface wear and patina demonstrate this to be a very old piece.
Ex-Morton Dimondstein, noted artist who spent significant periods of his life in Italy, and later in Mexico in the company of David Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. Also a passionate dealer in African art, Dimondstein was influential in introducing important African art to West Coast collectors in the 1960's and 70's.
54 cm/21 in high x 21 cm/8 1/2 in deep.