Bamana Mask Mali
Great carved details cover the whole mask that is easily seen on the light-colored wood.
A superb mask presenting multiple horns and a Chi wara icon on the forehead. This is a Bamana mask of N'tomo. Bamana N'tomo (N'Domo) masks serve to protect young boys during their first initiation cycle before circumcision. The number of horns makes reference to specific characteristics of males (three or six horns) or females (four or eight horns) and the androgynous (two, five, or seven). The present mask has six horns, which means it is a male character. Some of its other features have also been symbolically interpreted: the smallmouth indicates the value of silence or of thinking before speaking; the long nose expresses the metaphorical capacity to smell the good and bad qualities in people. And the antelope incarnates all the qualities associated to the Chi-Wara headcrest. 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. Ntomo maskers wear simple cotton costumes, sometimes with raffia attached, and they test one another by striking each other with sticks to develop forbearance in future life.