African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Senoufo mask
Senoufo Kpeliye small mask (N° 20121)
The African masks of the Senufo are worn by male members of the Poro society, an institution that controls political and economic life.
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Variously shaped wings alternate on the contours of this narrow mask topped with a hornbill beak. "Kpélié" meaning "mask that jumps", it is also worn during initiations symbolically marking a death followed by a rebirth.
Dark patina, with residual ochre incrustations.
Kept in the sacred enclosure named sezang in order to remove them from the gaze of the uninitiated, their function is to honor the elders or even appear at funerals. Anthropomorphic masks would mainly chase the spirit of the deceased from its place of residence.
Living in a reserved area, the senufo sculptor, whose training lasted seven years, began by making everyday objects, then, little by little, sported sculptures of increasing size. Initiatory rituals completed his training.
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