Chi Wara Head Crest (Male)



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. The male type shows a male, mythical, beautiful and powerful antelope with two long, curved horns that stand for the tall growth of millet, with a clearly visible tail, a penis that symbolizes the rooting of the grain, long ears that refer to the farmer listening to the songs sung by women who encourage the men while they work in the fields and an open zigzag pattern in the neck that symbolizes the sun's path along the horizon between the two solstices. The Bamana people honor successful farmers through performances involving the appearances of the antelope masks. The larger a man’s harvest is, reflects the kind of husband he 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, 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 appeared holding two sticks in their hands, their leaps imitating the jumps of the antelopes.

Wood , Dark patina , Cotton , Copper

Height : 48″ (121.9cm)