Ci Wara headdress
Early 20th century
Carved wood and pigments
Height: 42.5 cm – 16 ¾ in.
Ex collection Julius Carlebach, New York, 1952
Ex collection Jacques Germain, Canada
Ci Wara dancers adorned themselves in dark fiber (raffia) costumes that covered their entire bodies, leaving only the crest visible. Their precisely choreographed movements evoked the graceful movements of an antelope. The whole ceremony was considered a metaphor for the convergence of elemental forces (sun, earth, and water).
Since the early 20th century, Ci Wara crests have served as inspiration for prominent European artists such as Ferdinand Léger who admired their geometric stylizations and fascinating negative spaces.