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Banda Mask

Arts of Africa

On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
This mask combines human features and those of a crocodile or shark with teeth bared. It has the tail of a chameleon, the horns and ears of an antelope, and features of less identifiable animals. Worn horizontally on top of the head, the mask is attached to a skirt of vegetal fibers that covers the body of the wearer. Banda masks were the property of the Simo men’s society, which historically oversaw and regulated fertility and initiation ceremonies. Today it is danced primarily for entertainment.
CULTURES Nalu; or Baga
MEDIUM Wood, metal, pigment
  • Place Made: Guinea
  • DATES late 19th or early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 61 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 15 3/8 in. (156.0 x 40.0 x 39.0 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    CREDIT LINE Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Nalu. Banda Mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, metal, pigment, 61 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 15 3/8 in. (156.0 x 40.0 x 39.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund, 58.7. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE 3/4, CUR.58.7_print_threequarter_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    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.
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