Masks such as this play an important part in traditional Bamana religious and political life. They are worn and seen only by members of the powerful Komo association, who harness the power (nyama) contained in the mask to aid members of the community who request assistance. The masks are constructed in secret, often in the wilderness outside of towns and villages, where powerful materials—including blood, chewed and expectorated kola nuts, and millet beer—are applied to the mask, accompanied by prayers and sacrifices. The open mouth and the horns, tusks, and porcupine quills symbolize the Komo's power to punish those who violate its rules.
Animal mask to be worn on top of head. Long narrow head with pair of long antelope horns projecting horizontally from one end and three smaller pairs set along snout between pairs of bristles. Snout is pierced by 3 rectangular openings. CONDITION: Completely covered with thick sacrificial patina. Many losses from insect damage. large piece of patina missing right rear. Two front pairs of horns are loose.