Marka Mask



This Marka mask comes from the Marka tribe (related to the Bambara and Bamana tribe) in Mali. Like the Bambara, the Marka, have six male societies (Jo, Ntomo, Kore, Komo, Chi Wara, Gwan), each with its own type of mask. Every male had to pass through these societies in progression, until he reaches the highest rank, where he would have acquired an ample knowledge of ancestral traditions. Initiation for men lasts for seven years and ends with their symbolic death and their rebirth as adults. The Ntomo society is made up of young boys before circumcision. Horns on such masks range from as few as three to as many as eight, indicative of the rank of the owner and the gender of the mask. The purpose of adorning the mask with metal is to give additional power by high merit of the fact that the mask was also created employing the power of the blacksmith.

The Marka dress their masks in colored costumes made of cloth. These masks always appear in pairs, to represent man's courting of woman. This mask was used during initiations into the Ntomo secret society responsible for rites-of-passage that marked the end of boyhood and entrance into adult life. Such initiations were done by circumcisions. This mask was also used at agricultural festivities and to prevent illness.

Wood , Copper , Cowry shells , Fibers

Height : 29″ (73.7cm)