Helmet mask, Senufo, Ivory Coast.

These zoomorphic masks, composites of several animals, were called Kponungo, or "funeral head masks". They embodied an aggressive supernatural power to combat any forces that might disrupt the well-being of the community. Ferce, sharp fangs and a variety of smaller tusks are meant to frighten away evil. The powerful features of antelopes, buffaloes, crocodiles, warthogs, hornbills, chameleons and humans combined to symbolize power and to recall important myths. They were used by the Poro men societies at funeral ceremonies, during initiation rites and anti-witchcraft ceremonies.

This is a fine small funeral head mask, carved with a short open snout, revealing huge teeth, two tusks aside the nose, the forehead carved with a small hornbill and crowned by long ears.

Light brown wood, remains of red and indigo blue pigment, traces of wear and use, cracks, loose piece at the back (see pictures), minor missing parts, paint rubbed off. On MDF / metal base.

L: 40 cm - 15.7 inch. H: 23,3 cm - 9.2 inch. W: 23,5 cm - 9.3 inch.