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16. Bamana chiwara, Mali, wood, 33 1/2" (85 cm)
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16. Bamana chiwara, Mali, wood, 33 1/2" (85 cm)
  The Chiwara masks, worn on a basketry cap on the top of the head, are among the most famous scupture to come from Africa. Danced for the Chiwara society, their initial use was to stimulate agriculture. This example is a female Chiwara (or antelope) with young. When danced the female and male versions of this mask appear together (both danced by male dancers). The dancers perform stooped over and leaning on canes as to dance standing upright would be to assume that one was as important as the powers represented by the mask. The male and female together represent the Bamana belief in compliments- the power of the balance between male and female in the sexes, and in agriculture the need for the balance of the sun (fire), an expression of the male principle, and the Earth and water, both expressions of the female principle.

Collection of Charlie and Blanche Derby

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