This is a fertility helmet mask probably from the mid 1800s. I bought it 30+ years ago from a reputable, high end Philadelphia dealer who dated it around 1850.
The Bambara are a tribe living in West Africa, mainly Mali but also in Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Sometimes called Banmana, which means "accept no master", is the name by which they refer to themselves. They are an agricultural people, probably settling in Mali before the 13th century. Despite and early tradition of bronze and terracotta their creative art today is mainly wood.
The embellishment of small metal pieces, in which this mask is covered, is typically Bambaran. I have looked every where and have never seen another piece like this. I believe that it is a rare and unusual piece and would make a wonderful addition to any collection.
I will ship this internationally but only if it can be insured which makes shipping expensive.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask and I thank you for looking.
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