Additional Information: This is a Bamana Kore society mask representing an hyena (Suruku) Topped with a female bust recognized by her exaggerate breasts. The mask is carved in a dense wood and presents a large face with a prominent forehead, a concave face divided into two by a straight nose. Each eye is represented by a circular hole. The mask has a close mouth in relief.The forehead is embellished with incised motifs.The surface shows signs of use and some age.
Suruku mask is worn by adult Bamana males during the initiation of young men into adult status. All Bamana males advance through various levels of initiation and secret knowledge and the Kore mask appears for only the most senior of men representing their personal struggle to achieve knowledge and wisdom. The symbolism of this mask identifies it as a Suruku mask of the Kore society. Suruku masks are seen as a combination of human and hyena features. Hyenas are thought by the Bamana to represent foolish behavior reflecting an uninformed view of the world, very much like the young male initiates. Carved in secret by the blacksmith the mask was made from a single piece of wood and reflects the skill of the Bamana sculptor.
Sarah C. Brett-Smith, The Making of Bamana Sculpture Creativity and Gender. Cambridge University Press, 1994, 352p.
Jean-Paul Colleyn (editor), Bamana. The Art of Existence in Mali.Museum For African Art, New York, Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, Gent; Museum Rietberg Zurich, 2001, 263p.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.