Human features are comfortably mixed with the Monkey and Hyena in this half-helmut Mask of the Kore Society of the Bambara peoples.
Typically large for this tribe, this mask measures more than 14" high just under 9" wide - ear to ear. This Mask is delightfully animated and expressive!
The defining features characterizing this type of Mask are a capped protruding forehead, long, angular protruding nose, almond shaped triangular shaped eyes set one slightly below the other, a flattened face and an elongated open snout mixed with human-like features. The band of simple carving at the start of the forehead is typical & the Hyena was the Kore Society's Guardian Angel.
The Carvers were given much latitude with these Masks resulting in a wide variety (more than 75 different types of Masks) representing animals, birds, mammals and reptiles have been found - many mixed with human features.
The agricultural Kore Society used this type of Mask for both initiations and at agricultural festivities in supplication of the earth - and sometimes for rain.
A warm nut-like colour with good signs of use. Nice patina with some crustation.
CONDITION: We rate this Mask in good tribally used condition. There is a split along the Mask's left side beginning in one of the piercings behind the ear and ending at the 2nd tooth in the mouth. A small split in the wood, rear, top of head. Monkey fur is not present in this example (likely was attached to the 3 split piercings behind the ears. Warm, nut-like colour. Nice aged patina with some crustation. Shows good wear. This Mask was acquired from a Dealer & came with no provenance. Condition and lack of provenance are reflected in the pricing. The Mask is early - but the exact age is unknown. Republic of Mali, Bambara (Bamana).
I originally purchased this piece in the early 80's. Beautifully carved, it just makes me smile!
** Long split is shown in photograph # 5. Small slit at back of head - is small, but noted and cannot be seen without inspection.