Wood, Leather, Beads.
21.5″ (54.6 cm) Tall.
Good, except for one broken ear.
Jean Pierre Hallet Estate Collection – California, USA.
These Chiwara headdresses feature the antelope, giving visual form to important religious beliefs about fertility and growth. They were worn in dances at the beginning of the rainy season (or when a fallow field was re-seeded) to assure a good harvest.
Dancers who wore these Chiwara headdresses covered their bodies with long grasses and cloth. They went bent over using two canes, believing that if they stood upright, they would offend the deity. The dancers accompanied farmers to the fields, supervised the planting, and then returned to the village where they danced. The dance consisted of jumps, sudden leaps and turns reminiscent of the actions of the antelope.
ChiWara is a half-human, half-animal deity that is central to the agricultural traditions of the Bambara people of Mali. This ‘working wild animal’ deity is known for tilling the soil and turning wild grasses into grain with its hooves and mother’s pointed stick. However, the people wasted the grain which led ChiWara to return to the earth. The farmers then created art and dance to recall him and his powers over nature.
Find out more about the Bambara ChiWara in this informative article focused solely on the creation, use and ceremonial use.