African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bamana mask
Ntomo Bambara mask (N° 21341)
This African mask from the ntomo, an initiatory society of uncircumcised youth prevalent in the Niger River region, appears primarily during the harvest season. The abstract crest, atypical, makes this mask special. Thick patina of use, matt, locally grainy. Abrasions.
Established in central and southern Mali, in a savannah zone, the Bambara, "Bamana" or "unbelievers" as the Muslims have called them, belong to the large Mande group, along with the Soninke and the Malinke. Mostly farmers, but also breeders, they make up the largest ethnic group in Mali. Animists, they believe in the existence of a god that requires the gestation of a child. Ngala maintains the order of the universe. His existence coexists with another androgynous god called Faro, who gave all qualities to men and who makes the fruits of the earth grow. The groups of Nyamakala artisans, more specifically the blacksmiths called numu, are in charge of carving ritual objects, endowed with nyama, occult energy. Using fire and magical objects, they are also given the role of healer and diviner. Their powers are transmitted to their wives, who alone have the right to produce pottery.
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