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    Description

    BAMANA, Mali
    Hyena Mask

    Wood, metal

    At over two million people, the Mande-speaking Bamana are Mali's largest group. From the 1700s to 1892 they were part of a Mande state that was finally subdued by the French. Bamana descendants are now patrilineal subsistence farmers living in arid savannah country. Wherever possible, they also raise cattle.

    Six male societies dealing with spirits, ancestors and continuity regulate Bamana life, which is now under considerable pressure from Islam. After reaching adulthood by passing through the compulsory boy's initiation society, each man joins one or more of the five agricultural societies for adult men. All use art objects. Before acceptance as a full member, each applicant must undergo a period of isolation and instruction in the secret lore and meanings of society rituals. Initiations for all of the societies take place every seven years.

    During their time of instruction, applicants to the Kore society are in an especially vulnerable state between their former existences and their new lives as adult members of the Kore society, and they must be protected from contamination by the uninitiated or attack by hostile bush spirits. A Kore member wearing a hyena mask acts as an instructor but is also a guardian. The hyena is the guardian spirit of the Kore society: its ferocious nature is underscored by the metal teeth of the present mask.

    A Kore mask is distinguished by its black surface color, erect, pointed ears, bulbous forehead sheltering rectangular eyes, simple triangular nose and projecting jaw with a boxy mouth; features well illustrated by the present example.

    Provenance:
    From the Estate of Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg

    Read more about the Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg Collection here.


    Sotheby's Important Tribal Art, May 5, 1997, lot 102
    Collected in Segou, Mali, 1956.

    Exhibited:
    Angera, Rocca Barromeo, Africa Memories of the Past, 1990: number 5.

    Height: 14 ½ inches


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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