The best known tradition of using miniature masks were by the Dan people of Liberia & the Ivory Coast, although other members of the Poro society like the Bassa also used them.
These small masks are sometimes called "Passport" masks due to their use as identification. They are often sewn onto a piece of cloth & carried on the person in a pouch. They are miniature copies of family masks and enable the carrier to retain contact with the spirit embodied in the parent mask.
The masks are used to invoke benevolent spirits during secret society meetings. They also demand offerings from initiates during initiation ceremonies such as libations. In addition to warding off evil, the minature masks also serve as witnesses during initiation ceremonies.
Miniature masks are carved to embody tutelary spirits and serve as testimony to the presence of the spirit associated with a large masquerade. When a mask-owner is travelling, the miniature mask serves as an important means of identification outside his immediate community. This role that may have given it the commonly applied name of "passport mask."
H: 4" x
W: 2 5/8" x
H including stand: 6 1/8" -
Stand base: 2" x 2"