Carved and polychromed. Mask represents the serpent Bayiri.

Serpent mask, 20th century

Not on Viewexpand_more

This spectacular mask depicts a serpent, an animal with positive, protective qualities for the West African Bwa people. During masquerade performances, the serpent's head twists rapidly from side to side so that its long, flexible body appears to undulate - an effect reinforced by the irregular zigzag design of its towering, 13 foot tall structure. Harvest celebrations, funeral rites, initiation ceremonies, and community events all provide occasions for public masquerades. Accompanied by men's drumming and women's singing, the male dancers bring their acrobatic strength and choreographic skills to the performance.

Serpent mask
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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Carved and polychromed. Mask represents the serpent Bayiri.