Senufo Culture

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Art ・APA ・4 Sources

Kponyungo (funeral head mask) Senufo humans are found in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire. This helmet mask regarded as Kponyungo is worn on the head during funerals (""CMS533 A –Art and Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art"", n.d.). It is made up of wood that is neatly curved to healthy one’s head and has a length of 104 Centimeter (41 inches). It is brown in color. The helmet masks include assemblages that are difficult of rows of enormous sharp teeth, bush-pig tusks, antelope horns, figures of chameleons and birds. The masks are seen by means of the Senufo Poro society as the most dangerous and senior of the all the masquerades. They are the epithet of magical formulae knowledge and supernatural powers that is expressed through aggressive symbols and forms. These powers, which are believed to be represented by the masks in the community, are amplified by age and are validated by blood sacrifices and the magical substance accrual to the bush spirits and the ancestors. The masquerades incarnates powers, which can be directed against lawbreakers and negative spirit mediums like dead wandering souls, witches, wicked bush spirits. The helmet masks performers usually play a double-membrane barrel drum and put on costumes, which consist of a suit that is one-piece, dyed in a red color with paint that is allegorical and has geometric patterns. And since the whole costume designed is not in any way in attachment with the mask, small holes around the neck or base of the mask are not pierced. The dancer can see where he or she is going only through the open jaws ("CMS533 A – Art and Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art", n.d.).

Kuba Culture

This mask represents Ngesh in the Kuba Culture. It is a helmet that is carved from wood that is structured with a wide and bulging forehead with sunken cheeks, large ears associated with the pygmies, big nose annunciated by hatching, patterns, and beads. It was initially made in the Lulua province ("Brooklyn Museum", n.d.). Its height with a beard is 57 centimeters. Copper covers most parts of the masks mouth that is usually outlined with beads that are red and white in color. The beads are usually imported while the cowries purchased from the other tribes in the region. The cowrie shells and beads typically represent royalty and wealth ("Kuba - Masks", n.d.). The black beads are utilized in separating the forehead into various sectors as the multicolored beads used in drawing attention to other aspects of the face like the chin and nose. The individual wearing the mask usually views where he or she is going while performing through the nostril holes since the mask does not have any eye hole with the reason being that it is supposed to make one feel blind while wearing it. Generally, this mask represents the son of Woot; according to the community beliefs, Boom was sent to the universe by his father (Woot) to set up the Kuba kingdom. His brother Mwaash aMbooy together with his sister Ngaady aMwaash accompanied him to rule and take care of the people of Kuba. Bwoom stands for the common members of the society and the members of the court system who are usually ranked lowest ("Kuba - Masks", n.d.).

Baga D’mba Culture

Nimba is used by the Baga people in Guinea between the late 19th and early 20th century ("Baga D'mba headdress - RAND AFRICAN ART," n.d.). The mask is neatly carved of from wood originally with raffia attachment. It has a length of 114.3 centimeters (45 inches). The mask is used for rituals by the Baga people who are one of the entire three tribes found around the Southwestern Guinea Atlantic coast. It is usually worn by especially powerful Simo secret society members. It symbolizes and illustrates the powers of Nimba, fecundity goddess whom they referred to also as mother earth. The mask was also connected with the fertility of the fields and human protection. As per the 19th Century events witnessed and written by explorers in the area, it was carried around the tall grasses and marshes of the rice paddies in Baga. As a powerful symbol of powerful, the goddess was also worshiped by females who were infertile and would pray to the goddess for the blessing of children since barren women were seen as cursed thus looked down on by the community members. The headdress represents a female figure idealized with pendulous breasts that tend to connect her to a mature mother who has managed to bear several offspring’s and has taken care of them up to maturity. It is always considered as one of the most monumental ritual African masks. It is estimated to be 8 feet in height from the ground to the shoulders when worn over by a performer. They are mostly worn by adults due to their size ("Baga D'mba headdress - RAND AFRICAN ART," n.d.).


CMS533 A - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art. Retrieved 16 June 2017, from

Kuba - Masks. Retrieved 16 June 2017, from

Baga Nimba or D'mba headdress - RAND AFRICAN ART. Retrieved 16 June 2017, from

Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 17 June 2017, from

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