Old Bambara mask from Mali.Hand carved from wood, carved and painted decoration.Height: 36 cm.
Bambara numbering 2,500.000 million form the largest ethnic group within Mali. The
triangle of the Bambara region, divided in two parts by the Niger River, constitutes the
greater part of the western and southern Mali of today. The dry savanna permits no more
than a subsistence economy, and the soil produces, with some difficulty, corn, millet,
sorghum, rice, and beans. Their traditions include six male societies, each with its own
type of mask. Initiation for men lasts for seven years and ends with their symbolic death
and their rebirth. Nearly every Bambara man had to pass through these societies in
succession, until, upon reaching the highest rank, he had acquired a comprehensive
knowledge of ancestral traditions.
Stand not included.