Bedu Mask


Ivory Coast

Bedu generally appears once a year for a period of a month, at the New Year festivities. These celebrate the renewal of the natural and the social order. The mask is seen as the reproduction ("domestication") of the Bedu, a wild animal that lives in the bush. Sculpting transforms Bedu into a domesticated animal while painting the Bedu provide it with the necessary authority. The Bedu mask is used to keep negative and harmful spirits away from the community and to increase the community’s sense of well being. In the village the domesticated Bedu becomes a less fearsome entity. Babies and the elderly are greeted by Bedu, who is believed to offer them protection from disease. These masks come in pairs. This Bedu mask, with a circle above it’s head, represents the female, male masks have horn like shapes.

The dancer would tie the mask to his head and cover the rest of his body with raffia, making him completely disguised and unrecognizable. These masks are danced by athletic young men with amazing agility and grace. They usually appear in male and female pairs at funeral rites and during month-long harvest festivals. Elders exhibit their authority by commanding Bedu to move in particular ways, for example, like a snake. By the end of the dance period the masks would have visited every home in the village, purifying and absorbing evil from each household.

Kapok tree

Height : 43″ (109.2cm)