Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Bamana Mask with Horns Mali African Art

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Brand Unbranded
Title Bamana Mask with Horns Mali African Art
Type of Object Face Mask
Country of Origin Mali
People Bamana
Materials Wood and pigment
Approximate Age 20th Century
Height (in) 24
Width (in) 10.5
Depth (in) 5.5
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 Loose horn

This mask is believed to be N'tomo or closely related. The style of face differs slightly from classic N'tomo. Although there are six horns atop this mask, traditional Ntomo masks have them spread accross the top of the mask from side to side instead front to back. The nose is also smaller than more traditional N'tomo masks, but the small mouth is ordinary. Another characteristic of this mask that seems N'tomo is the antelope on the top of the bulging forehead.

N'tomo masks serve to protect young boys during their first initiation cycle before circumcision. This style of N'Tomo mask with figure of the head and horns is located to the region of Bougouni in Mali. The number of horns make reference to specific characteristics of males (three, six , or 9 horns) or females (four or eight horns) and the androgynous (two, five or seven). N'Tomo masks never speak demonstrating their power to protect the young boys by its presence. It would be danced by mature men to protect the boys and it would also be worn by the boys as they would dance and test one another. This horned mask would have been worn as a face mask. The surface and the back show good signs of long use. Carved in secret by the blacksmith the mask was made from a single piece of wood.

While the use of this mask is not guaranteed, it is a wonderfully carved piece with intricate designs on the face and sings of use. An interesting and unique piece that would be a great addition to any collection.

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.