Tribal art > African Statues > Baga mask
Baga Nimba Mask (N° 16929)
Baga religious practices and African art.
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This shoulder mask, pierced with holes under the breasts to allow the wearer's vision, features an elaborate decoration consisting of rafters and incisions highlighted by inlays of tapestry nails.
Belle patina of use.
Mêlés in Nalu and Landuman, the Baga live along the coasts of Guinea-Bissau in areas of swamps flooded six months a year. They believe in a creative god called Nagu, Naku , which they do not represent, and which is accompanied by a male spirit whose name is Somtup . Apart from the famous Nimba mask, they have created a powerful mask, hybrid snake, gazelle, chameleon and crocodile, with the aim of communicating with the spirits of the forest. The face of the Baga Nimba mask is characterized by a buzzed nose evoking a bird's beak, an incised hair that divides a ridge. This national symbol can reach up to 50 kg in its larger versions. Its real name Demba / D'mba (or Nimba in baga language), it represents the nurturing woman, but it also evokes the bird, especially the fertility of the calao thanks to its nose in the shape of a beak. Supposed to increase harvests, to encourage pregnancies, it is exhibited at various ceremonies, parties and funerals, and its use currently continues during important festivities. The wearer of the mask is wrapped in raffia and leads a dance timed to the rhythm of drums.
The basic ritual, among the Baga and their neighbours, consists of the initiation that takes place every twenty-four years. The initiation society is called after the summoned spirit, or to-lom ( After the abandonment of rites following Islamization, colonization, or conversions to Christianity, the Baga now seek to revive their traditions through festive ceremonies using masks.
Source: "Baga" D.Berliner
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