Skip Navigation

Dance Headdress (Ci-wara Kun)

Arts of Africa

Duality is present in art throughout the continent as an expression of essential concepts that drive human nature—from gender to humanity’s place in the cosmos. This pair of pairs illustrates some of the ways that artists have expressed these ideas.

Ere ibeji are carved by the Yoruba primarily as memorial figures for twins. Because twins are considered spiritually powerful beings, with power to provide considerable good or to inflict harm, ibeji figures are the focus of great personal interaction and care. Such figures are considered a point of access to the spirit of a departed twin, and an icon of status for a mother of twins.

Worn on the heads of male dancers, ci-wara headdresses are danced in male and female pairs to symbolize the fertility of land and animals. Each headdress represents an antelope, which for the Bamana is a metaphor for the successful farmer who tirelessly tills his fields.
MEDIUM Wood, metal
DATES late 19th–early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 36 3/8 x 14 1/4 x 2 7/8 in. (92.4 x 36.2 x 7.3 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Rosemary and George Lois
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Male: antelope headdress in vertical style with glossy, deep reddish brown patina. The mane consists of three sweeping curved bands with elaborate openwork "V" shaped configurations in each band. Head is narrow and snout is elongated. There are incised decorative notches on head and on both sides of body near tail. Horns are very tall and bifurcated - tips are carved almost at right angle near top. Horns decorated with incised grooves. Edges of ears are notched. Condition: very good. Proper left ear has native repair; metal plate is nailed across crack at top edge.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Bamana. Dance Headdress (Ci-wara Kun), late 19th–early 20th century. Wood, metal, 36 3/8 x 14 1/4 x 2 7/8 in. (92.4 x 36.2 x 7.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Rosemary and George Lois, 77.245.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 77.245.1_edited_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 77.245.1_edited_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2018
"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.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.