The Guro

The Guro belong to the South-Mande speaking people and live in the west-central area of the Ivory Coast, in the Bandama River’s valley regions.

Coming from the North, they settled there in the 18th century, after the Mande invasions. According to Vincent Bouloré, Zamble masks could have been created by Guro people in a process of identification comparing themselves  to the Baule people. This Zamble mask was first found at the end of the 19th century during the siege of Tissalé, and quoted in M. Delafosse’s survey (1900).

Zamble Guro masks are one of the 3 Yu masks used in the North of the Guro land. Yu masks belong, with other objects, to the Yu rite.
In particular, Zamble masks can be seen used by women. As a mediator of conflicts, the Zamble mask stops occult powers. This Zamble is an antelope, a type common in this region, as are leopards too.

The Zamble appears with other masks; in competition with the Zaouli mask, an old man, coming from neighbouring villages, or with the Gu mask representing the wife of Zamble. Such masquerades are popular amusement in central parts of the country. And we can see the same kind of masks among the Yaure and Baule.

Editor:

Coryse Mwape-Dolin
Art historian with degree (Non-European Arts), Université Libre de Bruxelles
 

Bibliographie

Anne-Marie Bouttiaux, Quand les masques s’affrontent pour le meilleur et pour le pire. Compétition de Zamble en pays Guro, De Facto Art Magazine 15: 46-47.
Vincent Bouloré, Sur la piste des styles, in Masques. Paris, éditions Dapper, 1995. p. 200-234.
Eberhard Fischer, Masks in Guro Culture, Ivory Coast. New York, Museum for African Art, 1986.
Ariane Deluz, Organisation sociale et tradition orale. Les Guro de Côte d’Ivoire. Cahiers de l’Homme 9. 1970
L’Autre Visage. Masques Africains de la collection Barbier-Mueller. M.R.A.C., 1997. p. 257
Tom Philipps (ed.), Africa, The Art of a continent. Londres/New York, 1995. p. 455

Illustration

Illustration (antilope): in Masques. Paris, éditions Dapper, 1995. p.185.
Illustration (Guro-masquerade): in De Facto Art Magazine 15: 46