African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Baga Mask
Baga Nimba face mask (N° 18391)
This rare face mask from the Northern Baga features the Nimba, a buzzed nose evoking a bird's beak over a tubular mouth, a summit ridge, and rounded ears. A nailing highlights the volumes, while parallel furrows embellish the surface. This mask would embody an idealized baga woman, and principles of fertility and abundance of harvests. They occur during harvests, marriages or deaths. Mate patina with grainy redious kaolin inlays.
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Mtês Nalu and Landuman, Baga live along the coast of Guinea-Bissau in areas of swamps flooded 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 , depicted 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 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 chief: marriages can only take place between these two halves. The initiation society to-lom (sacred) organizes the rituals every twenty-four years. Its closure is marked by the appearance of the great snake mask bansonyi embodying the spirit A-Mantsho-nga-Tshol which protects the initiates from the lower ranks.
Ref.: Baga, D.Berliner.
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|Material(s)||wood, metal, textile|
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