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Republic of Guinea

Nimba mask
Nimba mask

The Baga or Nalu people, Republic of Guinea. 20th century

Wood, carved and tinted.

60 × 23 × 27 cm. lnv. No. 5186 II

Received in 1974 as a gift from the delegation of the Republic of Guinea. First publication.

The Baga and Nalu people inhabit the woodlands of Guinea. Their artistic creativity finds expression in bold plastic forms, subtle stylization and effective combinations of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs. The Nimba mask is a classical example of Baga or Nalu art. It is designed as a kind of headgear, the four supports of which are to rest on the dancer's shoulders.

The narrow head of the creature with a big beak-like nose is flattened at the sides and crowned with a crest. It is covered with narrow stripes of carved ornamentation, which emphasize its shape. The Nimba mask symbolizes the spirit of fertility-a half-woman, half-bird-who was believed to protect the fields and ensure a rich harvest, and is an important attribute of magic rites.

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