The man behind the mask

Yes, it's me, Markus. And no, it is most certainly not my intention to be blasphemous wearing a mask that was used in a traditional Senufo ceremony. But to understand the Senufo culture, I have to see throught their eyes. And though the man behind a mask does see more, making these images was an important part of my experiences describing Senufo sculpture.


And by the way: It is a good method to discover an authentic piece to try on a mask to see if it works on the face. A ceremonial dancer will not wear a mask that is uncomfortable or loose at the head. The Kpelié mask I am wearing is casted in aluminium. Aluminium masks are rare today (this lightweight, prefered by the dancers, metal,  was imported as electrical isolators and cans after 1950), because after ceremonial usage the metal got recycled as kitchenwear, like pots or spoons. From my own experiences developing jewelry, I learned a lot from the casting processes of the Senufo. And for sure I can say it is a master's work, to cast a complex object like this mask with all the tiny breaches, slits, breakthroughs and fine details in this very difficult to cast metal. The surface is smooth and there is not a single piend or sharp edge. Unfortunately the man who made this mask is not known. Karl-Heinz Krieg, who collected this mask, told me it was made by a Loko (a Senufo smither).



My archive and my blog are critically and very well researched, but they are not scientific (So many expertises of galeries and auction houses aren't either). But I look at the sculptures with my artist's/designer's eye. I always set myself into the position of creating an object. I go throught the whole process of making. How to set proportions at a limb to receive a long and unbowed statue, what is possible with tools and how to top it, how to finish a surface withouth traces and structures caused by tools? How to fix a mask at the head without strangling? Or, in casting process, how thin can I go in my wax mockup, where to place the casting channels or how to compound the alloy?


Yes, I do receive partly very rude messages, saying that an object is new, not used, faked or even stolen. It is so very easy to say, isn't it? Am I bitter? Yes, sometimes, because till today I have not received a single proof of evidence. Rarely I can name a carver, because characteristic features of a documented carver can be very clear on a picture. I couldn't and would't say anything in 99% just by an image. But there are so many who (think they) can. I provide this database for free on this website. And more than 10.000 downloads of content and single images proof, that there is the need for information about the carver itself.


So thank you very much for your interest. I work on all this for almost 7 years. Please respect that I offer my books too, that is part of making my living as an author and making this possible. This project is my method to see an object from an other point of view and I hope to share  an insight view with you. That's why I am the man behind that mask.


Markus Ehrhard

Kpelié mask, casted in aluminium.  Work of a Loko. Time of creation after 1950. Collected by Karl-Heinz Krieg

35,5 x 16,5 x 6,0 cm.



- Wenn Brauch Gebrauch beeinflusst, Markus Ehrhard, page 136 - 137.

Copyright content and images by Markus Ehrhard