Headdress (chi wara)

early to mid-1900s
Overall: 44.5 x 66 cm (17 1/2 x 26 in.)
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Did You Know?

Chi wara headdresses look different depending on the region they were made in. The style of this example tells us it was likely made in the Djitoumou region of southern Mali.

Description

Chi wara—a mythical “farming beast”—was said to teach farming to the Bamana people. Carved patterns cover this female chi wara’s body, highlighting its muscles and emphasizing that it is no earthly animal, but rather an agricultural spirit that combines human, antelope, and anteater elements. This example wears earrings and a nose ring of imported metals and beads. Its carver—a blacksmith—used a naturalistic style common south of the city of Bamako. Accompanied by women’s songs, male performers danced paired male-and-female chi wara headdresses affixed to basketry caps at agricultural competitions and weddings.
Headdress (chi wara)

Headdress (chi wara)

early to mid-1900s

Africa, West Africa, Mali, Bamana-style blacksmith-carver

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