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Masks of the Koranko Poro: Form, Function and Comparison to the Toma

ISBN: 9780979329012

Product Description

by Neil Carey
Masks of the Koranko Poro:
Form, Function and Comparison to the Toma.
by Neil Carey

xiv, 62 pages of text interspersed with 1 chart, 2 maps, 3 drawings, 15 color photographs and 10 black and white photographs.
ISBN: 978-0-9793290-1-2

Continuing in the tradition of Dr. George Way Harley, the long-anticipated works of Dr. Neil Carey expand our understanding of the art and traditions of the Poro men's secret society of West Africa. This book reveals that, contrary to Western teaching, the Koranko people of Sierra Leone and Guinea do indeed use Bush Spirit masks in their secret Poro rituals. Most of these masks are body masks, rather than horizontal masks or face masks. In addition to presenting a previously unpublished and important set of Koranko masks from all grade levels of Poro, the author also differentiates between the styles of Koranko masks and those of the neighboring Toma. Finally, the author discusses previously published Koranko masks that have historically been misattributed to the Toma. Included are 13 photographs of previously unpublished objects, as well as 10 photographs of reattributed published masks.

The importance of this book extends far beyond the traditional arts of the Koranko and the Toma, for like all of this author's work, it gives us a better understanding of the Poro, the original traditional religion of much of sub-Saharan West Africa, its secret rituals, and the uses of material art in its social-political-religious role as an agent of social control. One of only a handful of volumes on Koranko life and culture, it is the only one dedicated to their art and masking traditions. As an added benefit, it also serves as a primer on Loma/Toma art and culture.

About the Authors

Dr. Neil Carey is an independent scholar, researcher, Africanist, and physician who since 1997 has specialized in the Poro groups of West Africa, with special interest in their material art and ethnotoxicology. He is the author of several important books and papers on the art and culture of the Poro groups of the Guinea Coast of West Africa.

Scholarly Reviews:

"Masks of the Koranko Poro offers a welcome new supply of information about the masks of the [Loma and Koranko] peoples...For the art lover it is a guide for distinguishing a Koranko mask from masks of the neighboring peoples. [Carey demonstrates] that, up to now, in literature the major part of the Koranko Poro masks have been wrongly attributed to the Loma, Gbande, or Kissi...the reader shall be pleasantly surprised that Masks of the Koranko Poro furnishes new details about the functional context and meaning of known mask types of the Koranko and Loma."

Annamieke Van Damme-Linseele in: African Arts (2010) 43:2

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