Chi Wara Headdress, Bamana, Mali, Africa
H: 57 cm (22,4″), W: 15 cm (5,9″).
This beautiful antelope headdress is from the Bamana tribe in Mali. The figure is called a Chi Wara meaning a working animal. It is used during harvest festivals on top of the dancers heads attached to a rack. The dancers wear decorative costumes made of raffia under which their body is concealed.
The Chi Wara figures are used in pairs of male and female. The female Chi Wara represents the earth. She carries her young child on the back symbolizing humanity. The male Chi Wara represents the sun.
Provenance: Belgian collection
Chi Wara legend
According to Bamana popular folklore the Chi Wara is a mythological hero. He came down from heaven to teach people managing agricultural life. In this way he ensured the survival of humanity. According to the legend the Chi Wara is a half antelope, half human. Dances performed in honour of the Chi Wara was originally a religious ceremony. Today the Chi Wara´s are carried to obtain a good harvest.