Ci Wara headdress
Carved wood, fibers and cowrie shells
First half of the 20th century
Height: 41 ¾ in. (106 cm)
45 ½ in. (115 cm) with the woven headpiece
Ex collection Maurice Nicaud(1911-2003), Paris
Ex collection privée, France
As stated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, local oral traditions credit a mythical being named Tyiwara or Ci Wara- a divine being half mortal and half animal - with the introduction of agriculture to the Bamana. These headdresses, also called Ci Wara, are carved to honor that original mythical being.
Ci Wara masquerade performances begin outside the village in the fields and gradually travel to the village center. Women also play an integral part during the masquerading ceremonies by singing songs of praise for Ci Wara and the hard-working farmers.