Senufo Mask


Ivory Coast

The Senufo`s continuity of religious and historical traditions, especially through the cult of the ancestors is maintained by the Poro society. All adult men belong to the Poro society, which is the pillar of communal life. The society is responsible for initiation and training of the young boys and regulates most of the ceremonial and religious activities in the village. A central concept in Senufo religion is a female ancestral spirit called “ancient mother” or “ancient woman,” the sacred guiding spirit of each Poro society. This is a Senufo mask known as Kpelie mask. The sophisticated face of this mask represents a woman. On the top of the mask is a carved chameleon. The Chameleon is associated with the original primordial creatures created by God. Chameleons as well as crocodile are magical and powerful. Chameleons are believed to be transitional animals, changing color when aroused or frightened. There two additions on either side of the chin symbolize the legs that connect the spirit to the earth.

The kpelie are danced by men, these masks perform as female characters during funeral ceremonies of elder members of the Poro society, designed to lead the spirit into the land of the dead. The Kpelie mask was used during initiations in the societies for boys, adolescents, and adults, and at harvest festivals to thank the ancestors for a good crop.


Height : 15″ (38.1cm)