James Gaasch



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African Masks from the Collection of James Gaasch contains photographs of the African masks and carvers from the Bwa (or Bwaba), Winiama and Mossi peoples of Burkina Faso, and the Bamana and Dogon peoples of Mali. Gaasch acquired many of these masks in the villages where they were carved. When possible, he interviewed the village carvers, the creators, of these dancing masks. Gaasch’s interviews with the carvers underscore the cultural context where traditional African world views persist. And, to the extent possible, they give voice to the masks to reveal their own significance. “They are, in our times, signifiers of cultures increasingly under siege, hostage to religious fanaticism, or to impoverishing globalization,” Gaasch explains. “This small book reaffirms the rights of these masks to continue to dance.”

Note: The latest 2019 edition of African Masks is newly available on Amazon.



Publication Date



Humboldt State University Press




West African masks, Tribal art, African dance


African Languages and Societies


The Department of World Languages and Cultures at Humboldt State University has established the “The James Gaasch World Languages and Cultures Travel Award” to provide students with unique study abroad opportunities for generations to come. Click here to donate.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

African Masks from the Collection of James Gaasch



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