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.
- Helmet Mask (Banda or Kumbaduba)
- Wood and pigment
- L. 152.4 cm (60 in.)
- Restricted gift of Marilynn B. Alsdorf and the Alsdorf Foundation