Chi Wara Head Crest (Female)



Traditionally tribes in this region 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 Chi Wara society members use a head crest representing an antelope, the mythical being that taught men how to farm and gave them the first grains. This Chi Wara head crest represents a female antelope holding a calf on her back. On this particular crest, the female with a baby symbolizes the earth and the baby symbolizes humankind. The long horns generally represent the successful growth of the crop. The Bamana people honor successful farmers through performances involving the appearances of the antelope masks. A large harvest reflects the kind of husband the farmer will be, and the more wives he can support. The Chi Wara is associated with the notion of good farmer.

Chi 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. Always performing together in a male and female pair to symbolize the sun and the earth, the coupling of the antelope masqueraders speaks of fertility and agricultural abundance. The dance performed by the masqueraders mimes the movements of the antelope. The dancers appear holding two sticks in their hands, their leaps imitating the jumps of the antelopes.

Wood , Dark patina , Cotton , Copper

Height: 41″ (104.1cm)