African Art and the founding myths Bambara
This highly stylized animal statue refers to the horse-antelope Ciwara ("wild of the earth") who would have taught agriculture to man. She would also have offered him the first cereal. The mask-crest was attached to a basketry hat by raffia ties.
Brown matte patina.
One ear is missing. Erosions.
Worn at the top of the head, these crests accompanied the dancers during the rituals of the tòn, an association dedicated to agricultural work.
The masks traversed the field while leaping in order to drive out from this one the nyama, malefic emanations, and to detect any danger, or to flush out the malevolent genies who could ravish the soul of the cultivated plants as well as the life force of their seeds.
Established in central and southern Mali, the Bambara," Bamana" or "unbelievers ", as the Muslims have called them, belong to the large Mande group, along with the Soninke and the Malinke. Animists, they believe in the existence of a creator god generically called Ngala, who would be endowed with 266 sacred attributes.
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