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Chi Wara Headdress

Bamana peoples, Mali

Wood and metal

Anonymous gift

9.25 x 32.5 x 3 in

Bamana peoples attribute agriculture fertility to the union of male (sun) and female (earth and water) principles. Through its symbolic motifs and performances, part of the Chi Wara’s role is to inculcate cooperation between sexes. For this reason, Chi Wara are always danced in male/ female pairs, and preparations for the performances are based on a strict, but interdependent division of labour: men always perform the dances while women provide the chorus and praise the virtues of ideal farmers; men prepare headdresses and dress the dancers, and women wash the costumes and provide the jewellery for the headdresses that will enhance the aesthetic impact of the performance.

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