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Kuma Mask

Arts of Africa

This mask blends features of a hornbill bird, or kuma, with the horn of a buffalo, or tu, combining animals associated with great wisdom and danger. Men wearing such masks perform at the initiation rites to men’s societies, at the funerals of important male elders, and at annual harvest ceremonies. The fact that this mask has only one buffalo horn may indicate that its design was transferred between clans, in which case the original form, with two horns, would have been slightly altered.
CULTURE Bobo
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, iron
  • Place Made: Africa
  • DATES late 19th-early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 33 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 27 3/4 in. (85.7 x 26.7 x 70.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 78.240
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Rosemary and George Lois
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Bobo. Kuma Mask, late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, pigment, iron, 33 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 27 3/4 in. (85.7 x 26.7 x 70.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Rosemary and George Lois, 78.240. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 78.240_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 78.240_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
    "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 Polychrome wooden mask. The pigments used are white, ochre, red-brown and black. They are applied to the face of the mask in a triangular pattern. The nose is a long narrow ridge. The mouth is square shaped and painted red-brown. The eye holes are void squares. Ears are horse-shoe shaped. Extending horizontally out from the center of the forehead is a long, sweeping beak resembling that of a toucan bird. Starting at the back of the head and curving horizontally over the dome-shaped head is a sweeping curved horn. The proper right side of the mask has been painted with red-brown pigments; the proper left side has only traces of reddish-brown pigment because of erosion. There are drill holes on sides and bottom of mask for attachment.
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