A-Tshol Headdress

Baga peoples, Guinea

Wood, pigment, metal and nails

Anonymous gift

3 x 9 x 10.5 in

A-Tshol is a highly stylised composite figure that resembles a bird with a long pointed beak or a crocodile jaw. Such objects were used to guard the sacred precinct when initiations were underway. Family shrines also were constructed to honour the a-Tshol, which means “medicine,” and which served as a protector and symbol of the human community. In the past, the a-Tshol shrine received offerings of the first fruits of the harvest, to celebrate the generosity of the ancestors.

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