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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Senufo Masks : Senufo Wooden Kpeliyee Mask
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Senufo Wooden Kpeliyee Mask - PF.5723
Origin: Ivory Coast
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 19.625" (49.8cm) high x 8.375" (21.3cm) wide
Collection: African Art
Style: Senufo
Medium: Wood

Additional Information: closet AF8
Location: United States
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Senufo men have their own "secret" societies, called the Poro, headed by the village elder, in which the sacred knowledge of manhood is taught to young initiates. Before they are taken into the wilderness to learn the clan wisdom, prospective adolescent are symbolically "killed", that is circumcised, to signify the end of their childhood. Upon their return, they are welcomed back into the village as adults with an elaborate ceremony. The most beautiful element of this ceremony is the celebration of the interdependent relationship between man and woman. Young men newly initiated into Poro society wear masks similar to this Kpeliyee mask. To garner the appreciation of women, these young men, dressed in full, colorful costumes of cloth and raffia to complement their masks, prance gracefully in a masquerade to the beat of pounding drums and dazzling rattles. This Kpeliyee mask is a fine example. It represents, as all Kpeliyee masks do, a beautiful, idealized woman. Its face is human in form and its head is crowned with bush-cow or antelope horns. A few pairs of carved ornaments are found below the horns. One pair is said to represent ears while the others are purely decorative. By each side of the protruding mouth, open with two teeth visible, spring two curved forms. The Senufo themselves explain that these might represent tassels of hair, or perhaps even legs. To the Senufo, this masks was representative of the wisdom of the sexes, a knowledge we continually struggle to understand today. - (PF.5723)


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