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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.

Date:

Mid–20th century

Artist:

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.

Status

On View, Gallery 137

Department

Arts of Africa

Culture

Baga

Title

Helmet Mask (Banda or Kumbaduba)

Place

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.

1925–1975

Medium

Wood and pigment

Dimensions

H.: 152.4 cm (60 in.)

Credit Line

The Art Institute of Chicago, Purchased with funds provided by Marilynn B. Alsdorf and the Alsdorf Foundation

Reference Number

1997.360

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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