< Back to collection

Banda Mask

This large vertical mask combines features of a human face and those of either a crocodile or shark with teeth bared. It has the tail of a chameleon and the horns and ears of an antelope, as well as features of less identifiable animals.

Worn on top of the head, the multi-colored mask is attached to a long, dense skirt of vegetal fibers that covers the body of the wearer. Banda masks are the property of the Simo society, a secret men's association overseeing and regularing fertility and initiation ceremonies. The masks are performed at initiations, harvest celebrations, and other auspicious festivals.

Catalogue Description:
Mask, Banda type, anthropomorphic face, large nose, series of 2 crests up middle of forehead, upper one largest, bisects domed cranium, ridged horns extend up and curve slightly inward from above animal-like ears, an open work spiral - starting from back of head - loops around a long ovoid ring starting also above ears. Mouth is cut with teeth both sides, but this is covered by a piece of sheet metal cut open in herring-bone-like pattern. Surfaces are decorated with geometric motifs or stylized designs representing human features, in sunk or raised relief, and incising also used. Mask polychromed white, red, blue, black.

Brooklyn Museum Logo