Bamana Mask, probably Ségou Region, Mali
height 18 3/4in (47.6cm)
Pace Primitive, New York
Diane and Brian Leyden, New York
Private Collection, New York, acquired from the above in 1979
Finely carved with four "prongs" above a spherical forehead with diminutive ears at the side, the flat facial plane with pierced circular eyes, long triangular nose and pierced mouth showing significant finger wear from excessive use in dance; fine dark-brown encrusted patina.
'The Ntomo, a society of the as-yet uncircumcised children, is well-known in the West thanks to its beautiful masks and the classic book by Dominique Zahan (Zahan 1960). Widespread throughout the Niger Valley, Ntomo cannot, however, be considered "universal" among the Bamana... The Ntomo opens the door of the Kore, and other initiation societies. Everybody knows the Ntomo song that summarizes the obligation of keeping their secrets: "Close your mouth firmly, close your mouth; the mouth is the enemy". The Ntomo dancers hold a whip or flexible rod, for it is within the framework of the Ntomo that the young boys learn, by grace of ritual flagellation, to keep quiet and to suffer in silence.'(Colleyn, 2001: p. 95)