African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Ci Wara mask

Ci wara Bamana female crest mask (N° 20618)

The mask presented consists of a basketry and textile hat, bordered by long raffia bangs, surmounted by a stylized sculpture of a female antelope and her young. A very fine piece, engraved with harmoniously distributed chevrons and grooves. The braided raffia, extended by long blond locks, evokes a feminine hair. It would be an animal - genius called Ciwara who would have taught the Bambara to cultivate the land. The latter recall the myth through the stylized representation of a hippotrague antelope, whose name ci wara means "fauve of the earth". The Bamara, Bamana, of central and southern Mali belong to the large Mande group, like the Soninke and Malinke. Animists, they believe in the existence of a creator god generically called Ngala who maintains the order of the universe. His existence coexists with another androgynous god called Faro, who gave all the qualities to men and who makes the fruits of the earth grow. Worn on top of the skull and held in place by a kind of small basket, the crests accompanied the dancers during the rituals of the tòn , an association dedicated to agricultural work. The masks would leap around the field in order to chase away the nyama, evil effluvia, from it and to detect any danger, or to flush out the evil genies that could take away the souls of the cultivated plants as well as the life force of their seeds.


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Originex-collection française
Material(s)wood, vannerie, textile, raphia et cauris
Weight1.55 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle inclusOptional

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