The Kpelie face mask used by Ivory Coast peoples provides an excellent study because of its numerous applications.
The Kpelie combines a variety of meanings and rituals from the Lo society. The society governs the social life of the Senufos. The face mask combines human and animal features with leglike formations on the bottom and armlike extensions on both sides. Carved palm nuts at the top of the mask symbolize the wood carving profession.
These masks are worn at male, adolescent, and adult initiations. The Kpelie is also used during harvest festivals to thank the ancestors for a good crop, and during the funerary rites to lead the deceased spirit into the Land of the dead.
(figure available in print form)
Senufo Kpelie Face Mask