Ceremonial animal mask
The Bambara are the largest ethnic group within the country. There are about 1.5 million Bambara living in southeastern Mali. They are an intelligent dignified people, proud of their warlike past. Nowadays they live principally from agriculture, with some subsidiary hunting and cattle rearing in the northern part of their territory. They strongly uphold their ancient tribal customs against Islam and Christianity. The purpose and origin of this carefully carved mask have not been clearly established. Possibly it was used in combined masquerades and puppet plays, entertainments put on by young men’s age-grade associations. The performance of each animal character is accompanied by a certain song and expresses social and ethical values.