Chi Wara Society Crest Mask
Date Early- to mid-20th century
Artist:Bamana peoples, Malian
Dimensions Overall: 27 1/2 in. (69.9 cm)
Medium Wood | Metal
Credit Line Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
Description Headdress mask ("Chi Wara", currently known as "Tyi Wara"). In the abstract form of an antelope; associated with the Tyi Wara Association, an initiation association which performs a Tyi Wara ritual that increases the fertility of the fields.
Object Label Chi Wara Society Crest Mask Early- to mid-20th century Bamana peoples Mali Wood and metal Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 71.2385 In Bamana villages, the Chi Wara society performs rituals related to agriculture and the yearly harvest of millet, a grain grown in semiarid regions across Africa. This mask incorporates a female figure with an antelope and, perhaps, an aardvark, as well as a hornbill. The antelope's horns represent stalks of millet, while the aardvark with its habit of rooting in the dirt stands for the farmer who tills the soil before planting. The hornbill most likely symbolizes fertility, both of the earth and of woman. The Chrysler's female Chi Wara mask once was almost certainly part of a pair, the other mask incorporating a male figure. Both, however, would have been worn by male dancers as a part of a costume covering the face and body.
Object Number 71.2385