Bete mask, Ivory Coast
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War mask. The Bete are an agricultural group who live in relatively major villages in southwestern part of the country, between Bandama and Sassandra rivers. They grow what is needed for a subsistence economy and also have linked to the market economy and much of their effort is devoted to the cultivation of cacao and coffee. They place particular importance on the hunt. Only the western Bete are known to have a masking tradition. Even if certain of their ritual attributions have disappeared or diminished, they nonetheless remain effective mediators between the supernatural world and that of man. The bellicose context of the masks’ appearances no longer exists: they neither encourage nor lead men into battle; nonetheless, they are always catalogued as war dance masks. Above all, they intervene to ritually cleanse the village, detect and chase away sorcerers, or preside over funerals.