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Culture:African; Bamana peoples; Mali
Title:Ci Wara Mother and Child
Date Made:20th century
Materials:wood and shell
Measurements:Overall: 31 in x 10 in x 2 in; 78.7 cm x 25.4 cm x 5.1 cm
Accession Number:  SC 2018.17.2
Credit Line:Gift of the Estate of Nan Rosenthal and Henry B. Cortesi
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

Wooden sculpture of two antelopes, with the smaller on top of the larger one's back; incised decoration and traces of polychromy; cowry shell earring on smaller antelope.

Label Text:
The Ci Wara masquerade continues to be performed in rural Mali communities.
The sculpted headdress represents a hybrid animal, incorporating features of the antelope, pangolin, and anteater. Trained Bamana dancers wear these masks over heavy ceremonial garments of black raffia fiber. They perform at planting and harvest time to encourage their farmers to work swiftly and thoroughly. The masks are always danced in pairs, one male and one female (often identified by the baby
on her back). Preparation for the masquerade occurs in the daytime, yet most of the performance occurs at night. This takes advantage of the cooler evening hours but also allows for supernatural interpretations of the dance, as the black costumes of the masqueraders seem to appear and disappear in the darkness.

Susan E. Kart '96, Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa, Lehigh University (2018)

headdresses; antelopes

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