While best known for large headdresses representing serpents, composite creatures, and females, Baga carvers also created a wider repertoire of mask and headdress forms. Unfortunately, most masks—including this one—were collected without documentation, and similar examples are no longer being used. We do know that Baga masks and headdresses were associated with initiations, but they also appeared on other occasions, such as agricultural festivals, marriages, and commemorative celebrations. On this mask, the abstraction of the face, the prominent nose, and the painted diamond patterns relate it to other, better-known Baga mask types.
Baga peoples, Guinea
Early 20th century
Wood, pigment, raffia, metal
H. 15 ½ in. (39.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Ernst Anspach, 78.5.4