Secrecy: Journal of Poro Studies, 2(1), 1-9                                                  

Neil Carey


A Lead Alloy Mask from the Liberian Dan: The Poro Expansion Ritual


An all-metal face mask from Vonehta, Liberia, accompanied by its wooden agent mask, was assayed using pXRF to determine its elemental composition. It is a lead alloy consistent with casting by a Mande blacksmith using melted lead bullets from the colonial era. The reddish coloration of its oxidative coating appears to be from the application of camwood dye. This is the only known lead mask from sub-Saharan Africa. These two Bush Spirit masks played a central role in the ritual by which a Poro group expanded its political, social, and religious power to another group.

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