African art > Mask > Baga mask
Baga Bansonyi Mask (N° 17812)
Naturalistic version decorated with contrasting colorful patterns of the mask depicting a snake emblem of the beliefs baga, nalu and landuma of the coast to the west of Guinea. He was named Bansonyi in the Susu or Soussou de Guinea Bissau. Long hidden from the eyes of strangers, this mask symbolizes a spirit associated with nature to whom it is appropriate to devote a cult in order to benefit from its protection and its favors of fertility and prosperity.
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As african serpentiform initiation group used mainly by Bulongic (Kifinda village), subgroup Baga on Guinean coastline, its size can be up to 2.50 m. These masks were divided into two groups bearing the names Mosolo kombo and Sangaran , each with precise functions. Their design took shape in an esoteric context, at night in the forest. Privileges of initiated men, embodying a spiritual entity, the Baga Sangaran masks attended only circumcision, every 24 years according to the ethnologist Denise Paulme. During some dances the mask was placed on the head, balanced by a bamboo structure and by the arms of the wearer himself covered with a cloth and a raffia loincloth. At the Baga Koba, the mask was worn on the shoulder, without a suit. In other groups, the mask appeared in different contexts.
The Baga live along the Atlantic coast of the Republic of Guinea in West Africa. They form one of the smallest ethnic groups in Guinea, and have lived relatively isolated from their neighbours because of the vast swamps that surround them.
(source: Baga , David Berliner)
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