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Shoulder Headdress (Zigiren-wunde)

Arts of Africa

This headdress is known as zigiren-wunde, or “the new bride.” Entirely secular in nature, it celebrates the role of Baga women in both human and agricultural fertility, and in nurturing the community.

The zigiren-wunde is owned and performed by groups of young men solely for entertainment, especially at weddings. The performer wears it on top of the head, grasping the leglike projections at the base of the mask to steady it. These “shoulders” are draped with cloth, leaving the figure’s breasts exposed, and the costume is completed with the addition of a skirt of palm fiber.
MEDIUM Wood, metal
  • Place Made: Guinea
  • DATES late 19th-early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 33 x 7 3/4 x 9 in. (83.8 x 19.7 x 22.9 cm) Base height: 2 in. (5.1 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Marcia and John Friede
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Possibly Baga. Shoulder Headdress (Zigiren-wunde), late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, metal, 33 x 7 3/4 x 9 in. (83.8 x 19.7 x 22.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Marcia and John Friede, 74.66.5. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 74.66.5_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 74.66.5_PS1.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 Wooden shoulder mask (Nimba pefete) or (Zigiren wunde) in form of female torso with large pendulous breasts, used by the Simo secret society. The figure does not have arms. The head is small. The neck is ringed at the top and at the bottom; the center of the neck is plain. Figure wears a carved diamond shaped pendant necklace. Beneath the breasts is a square shaped opening. Copper beads are inserted in the eyes. Head has a crescent shaped coiffure with chevron design. CONDITION: Portion of right shoulder support broken off, remaining part is attached to a sturdy armature. Base of left shoulder support is set into modern base. Checks on front lower side (left) and on chest area. Some splitting of wood on left side of breast. Pitting throughout piece.
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