Bamana Antelope Chi Wara Headcrest Mali
The Bamana, also known as Bambara, constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in their region. With agriculture at the core of their traditional way of life, Bamana society and art are deeply influenced by issues related to the natural cycles and the productivity of farmers. The Ci-wara (or Chiwara, Tyi Wara) society plays a crucial role in passing down knowledge of agricultural practices from one generation to the next, and its primary purpose is to pay homage to successful farmers.
Rooted in ancient legends, the rituals of the Ci-wara society revolve around a mythical creature, sometimes identified as a roan antelope (Hippotragus Leucophaeus) or anteater (Manis temmincki), combined with elements of a python or a half-human, half-animal being named Ci-wara. This mythical figure is credited with introducing agriculture to humanity. The Bamana people express their reverence for accomplished farmers through ceremonial performances featuring intricately carved wood crest masks representing the antelope.
These Ci-wara crest masks take center stage in agricultural contests, entertainment events, and the annual celebration. The masquerade ceremonies unfold during both planting and harvesting seasons, taking place in the fields and the village palace. The dance involves the collaboration of two individuals, portraying a male and female pair in a symbolic representation of the agricultural cycle.
Approximate Age: Mid 20th Century