210802 - Tribal used African Markha N' Tomo face mask - Mali.


Mali: Tribal used African shells Markha face mask.

This type of mask is used in initiation ceremonies.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood and shells.

Material: wood and shells.

Height: 68 cm.

N'tomo masks are used by the Bambara people of West Africa. There are six male initiation societies that young males must pass through before becoming a man. N'tomo Dyo is the first of these through which boys pass before their circumcision.The mask represents the legendary ancestor of the Bambara and it is a symbol of protection.

The mask is made of wood and may be covered in shells, seeds or brass. The face maybe more or less abstract, but is always topped by a row of vertical projections. The number of spikes indicates whether the mask is masculine, feminine or androgynous. Three, six or nine are male; four and eight are female; and two, five and seven are androgynous. The mask was also used at agricultural festivities and to prevent illness. 17