Oustanding Senufo Helmet Mask – NOO – Cote d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast
1970-80. Carved hard wood. Cm. 28,0 high x cm. 20,5 width x cm 20,5 depth (11.02″ x 8.07″ x 8.07″); grams 1256,0 (44.30 oz.).
The ‘noo’ masks are worn by healers.
A fine wooden helmet surmounted by a stylized representation of bird; in the back “the mythical bull that first revealed his secret knowledge of healing and magical powers of transformation to the Senufo hunter who became the founder of the first nookaariga society” (Glaze in Barbier 1994: 17).
The Senufo peoples consist of more than thirty subgroups with many local variations of language and custom, and occupy a large area that spans the national boundaries of Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Among Senufo males, participation and completion of Poro society rituals is universal. Initiation societies like Poro extend across kinship lines and household ties and create a vital sense of cohesion within the community. In a highly structured series of age grades and corresponding rites, the initiate “walks the path of Poro,” which leads to responsibility, wisdom, and maturity. Graduation ceremonies, characterized by strenuous masquerade performances, are moments of great joy and pride, as the men assume positions of greater respect and authority within their community.
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