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 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

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artist

Baga

Title

Helmet Mask (Banda or Kumbaduba)

Origin

Guinea

Date

1925–1975

Medium

Wood and pigment

Dimensions

L. 152.4 cm (60 in.)

Credit Line

Restricted gift of 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 .

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