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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Senufo Masks : Senufo Wooden Kpeliyee Mask
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Senufo Wooden Kpeliyee Mask - PF.1253
Origin: Northern Ivory Coast, Mali
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 14.5" (36.8cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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Every Senufo male is initiated into the all important Lo society. There are three grades of membership, each achieved after seven years of instruction in the obligations of young boys, adolescents, and men, respectively. "Kpelie" masks, which are female and represent ancestors, are the most common Senufo masks. They are worn at Lo society initiations and funerals and at other times when ancestors are venerated.

Although the Kpelie masks themselves are quite narrow, the entire face and body of the wearer are covered with cloth and fiber costumes that completely obscure the human agent. The basic components of this mask are the ram's horns at the top, which represent a sacrificial animal, the rectangular flanges at the side, and the two "legs" projecting downward from the cheeks, which signify the hornbill, one of the five original animals in Senufo cosmology. The crest identifies the particular caste of the owner of the mask; in this case perhaps a farmer due to the strong fertility symbolism represented.
- (PF.1253)


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