Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Bamana Chi Wara Antelope Headcrest Mali African Art

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Title Bamana Chi Wara Antelope Headcrest Mali African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Mali
People Bamana
Materials Wood, pigment, hair
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 17 Inches
Width: 7 Inches
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair N/A

Additional Information: A vertically oriented Chi-wara. This piece is very well carved by talented hands and has a very rich and dark patina. The antlers are covered in a beautifully detailed pattern of geometric shapes, lines and angles. This piece is a great example of one of the most desireble pieces in African art.

The Bamana (also called Bambara) are among the largest ethnic groups in their region. Because traditional life revolves around agriculture, issues concerning the cycles of nature and the productivity of farmers inform Bamana society and art. Knowledge of agriculture practices is transmitted from generation to generation through the Ci-wara (or Chiwara, Tyi Wara) society. The purpose of the Chi-wara society is to pay homage to successful farmers. Their rituals recall the legend of the mythic animal that could be (according to different regions) a roan antelope (Hippotragus Leucophaeus) or anteater, a pangolin (Manis temmincki) and a python or a mythic half man, half-animal creature called Ci-wara, who introduced agriculture to men. The Bamana people honor successful farmers through performances involving the appearances of the antelope masks like this carved wood crest mask. Ci-wara crest masks are worn at agricultural contests, entertainment and at the annual celebration. The masquerade ceremonies occur during planting and harvesting seasons in the fields and the village palace. The dance is performed by two men acting as a male / female pair.

Recommended Reading: Brett-Smith's THE MAKING OF BAMANA SCULPTURE-CREATIVITY AND GENDER, and superb examples in BAMANA-THE ART OF EXISTENCE IN MALI, edited by Colleyn.