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Helmet Mask (Banda or Kumbaduba)

A work made of wood and pigment.

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  • A work made of wood and pigment.


Mid–20th century


Baga or Nalu
Guinea (Conakry) or Guinea-Bissau
Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

This massive headdress is always worn by a man, who bears its enormous weight while performing a vigorous dance imitating the movements of various animals. Representing a powerful spiritual being, this horizontal mask combines human and animal features including a crocodile’s jaw, a woman’s face and hairdo, an antelope’s horns, a serpent’s body, and a chameleon’s tail. Today the mask is danced only during special events such as visits from dignitaries or New Year’s Day, but it was originally used to protect against crocodile attacks and other human and supernatural threats. Previously, banda (or kumbaruba) also danced on joyous occasions such as weddings and harvest and planting celebrations. Some villages owned different masks that would appear together in one performance, either sequentially or simultaneously.


On View, Gallery 137


Arts of Africa




Helmet Mask (Banda or Kumbaduba)


Guinea (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Wood and pigment


H.: 152.4 cm (60 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Marilynn B. Alsdorf and the Alsdorf Foundation

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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