Ci wara (Headdress) - ROM2008_10402_27


Ci wara (Headdress)

Maker: Unidentified Bamana artist or workshop
Geography: Mali
Date: 20th century
129 x 44 cm
Object number: 971.165.498
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel J. Zacks
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionThe Ci wara crest mask is one of the most iconic creations of Bamana artists. Originally, they were worn as headcrests in danced performances. Even though their appearance could vary according to regional differences, these sculpted headdresses all represented Ci wara. In the vertical type of headdress, this supernatural being was a stylized combination of antelope horns, aardvark body and the textured skin of a pangolin. The movements of the masquerade recalled the high, impulsive leaps of the frisking antelopes and were meant to bring to life the farming (ci) wild animal (wara) who taught mankind how to cultivate the earth. While the Ci wara society included both men and women, emphasizing the necessary gender equilibrium in the reproduction of society, masks were worn exclusively by young men. Paired male and female masks would perform in dances that praised and encouraged good farmers. This iconic image is frequently reproduced in a variety of media for sale in the local and international art markets. The image appears on stamps, monuments and business logos in many parts of Mali and is often considered a national symbol.
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