African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Baga Masks

Baga Masks (N° 14502)

Cut from light wood, these shoulder masks emanating from the Northern Baga and also used by the Nalu have a voluminous head with a buzzed nose evoking a bird's beak surmounting a tubular mouth, a long summit ridge, and wide horseshoe ears. A metal clipping, hidden by the grainy matte patina, highlights the eyes and face on which also emerge chevron stripes evoking traditional scarifications. These masks would embody an idealized baga woman, i.e. principles of fertility and abundance of harvests and occur during harvests, marriages or deaths.
Ex. Belgian collection Mercier.Granular surface, abrasions and desisication.
Mixed with Nalu and Landuman , Baga live along the coast of Guinea-Bissau in flooded swamp regions six months a year. They believe in a creative god called Nagu, Naku , which they do not represent, and which is accompanied by a male spirit whose name is Somtup , represented by a large cage covered with raffia whose top is a bird's head. He is assisted by the female spirit A-Bol. Apart from the famous Nimba mask, Dimba, they have created a powerful mask, hybrid of snake, gazelle, chameleon and crocodile, in order to communicate with the spirits of the forest. Two groups, kamana and bangoura , make up the Baga villages, each ruled by a leader: marriages can only take place between these two halves. The initiation society to-lom (sacred) organizes the rituals every twenty-four years. Its fence is marked by the appearance of the large snake mask bansonyi embodying the spirit A-Mantsho-nga-Tshol which protects the initiates from the lower ranks.
Ref.: U.022Baga", D.Berliner.  

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OriginEx. coll. belge Mercier
EthnyBaga
CountryGuinée
Material(s)wood, metal
Height cm105
Width50 cm
Weight32.00 Kg
Estimated dating1sthalfxxe

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