African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Senoufo mask
Senoufo crest mask (N° 20014)
Mask of the Senoufos of Côte d'Ivoire, globular, whose face is pierced with circular holes highlighted with kaolin. Erected at the top, a sculpted figure symbolizing a hornbill or setyen, an emblematic animal of the Senoufos, spreads its wings widely. The black-brown patina is embellished with red ochre details and a white pastillage. Smooth, satin surface.
The Senoufo, the name given to them by the French colonists, are mainly composed of farmers who are scattered between Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. Councils of elders, led by an elected chief, administer the Senoufo villages.
Representations of hybrid beings, the zoomorphic African masks of the Senufo are worn by members of the Poro society, the institution that controls political and economic life. Their function is to honor elders or even appear at funerals, hence their name, poniugo, "funeral head." Multiple zoomorphic elements are often associated, crocodile mouth, antelope horns, warthog and ram. Living in a reserved neighborhood, the senufo sculptor, whose training lasted seven years,began by making everyday objects, then gradually tackled sculptures of increasingly large size. Initiatory rituals completed his apprenticeship.
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