Bamana Bull Mask Mali
This mask is believed to be N'tomo or closely related. The style of face differs slightly from classic N'tomo. Although there are six horns atop this mask, traditional Ntomo masks have them spread accross the top of the mask from side to side instead front to back. The nose is also smaller than more traditional N'tomo masks, but the small mouth is ordinary. Another characteristic of this mask that seems N'tomo is the antelope on the top of the bulging forehead.¬†
N'tomo masks serve to protect young boys during their first initiation cycle before circumcision. This style of N'Tomo mask with figure of the head and horns is located to the region of Bougouni in Mali. The number of horns make reference to specific characteristics of males (three, six , or 9 horns) or females (four or eight horns) and the androgynous (two, five or seven). ¬†N'Tomo masks never speak demonstrating their power to protect the young boys by its presence. It would be danced by mature men to protect the boys and it would also be worn by the boys as they would dance and test one another. This horned mask would have been worn as a face mask. The surface and the back show good signs of long use. Carved in secret by¬† the blacksmith the mask was made from a single piece of wood.
While the use of this mask is not guaranteed, it is a wonderfully carved piece with intricate designs on the face and sings of use. An interesting and unique piece that would be a great addition to any collection.