Helmet Mask (Kponyugo)
Wood ca. 20th century
H. 31 1/2 x W. 9 in. approximately
The masks, known as kpeliye’e, feature delicate oval faces with geometric projections at the sides. These masks were worn with full body ceremonial garments during funerals, and also as a punishment to lawbreakers. Cut and raised patterns symbolizing ethnic marks traditionally made on the skin during ritualistic rites, adorn the smooth, glossy wooden surfaces. Considered feminine, the masks honor deceased Senufo elders, highlighting their grace and beauty. They provide a complement to the masculine Senufo helmet masks. Both masks and ceremonies are organized by fraternal organizations in the region.