Bete mask history - Country Ivory Coast
The Bete carvers are well known for the Nyaba (face mask see image to the right), which goes back to the time of the Gla society. This type of mask is mainly used during funeral processions, to instill fear and or detect sorcerers that can bring harm to the community. Typical of these masks have a protruding forehead, large mouth, narrow eyes and hornlike protuberances to protect the face.
The tribal artists also carves elegant statues, which have mainly been influenced by the Guro, Yaure and the Senufo people of the region. The Bete tribe lives in the southwestern part of Cote d'Ivoire, between the Sassandra and Badama Rivers, close to the Guro and Akan tribes.
They maintain a harmonious relationship between nature and the ancestors. The vast majorities follow their traditional African religion and believe in the God Lago however; they do not worship this God. They believe in the spirit world to guide and protect them through daily life. These spirits they believe are found in nature, namely rivers, rocks, forests etc. Sacrifices of worldly possessions are made to the spirits to appease them especially during troubling times.
They are mainly into agriculture (subsistence farming) they only grow what is needed by the tribe. They live under ancestor authority. They also have links to a small market economy and cultivate cocoa and coffee to generate income.