In Mali and Burkina Faso, the Marka people whose settlement region extends from the north of the Bambara territory to the Senegalese border live principally from agriculture with some subsidiary cattle. The Marka are famous for their masks and puppets. Similar to Bambara's Ntomo society masks, Marka masks are often carved with horns, comb or crest on top of the head. The image of antelope head is a very often used motif in the Marka masks, as according to their mythology, it taught men how to farm. The masks of this type were used in two rituals, during the circumcision ceremony of adolescents, and when circumcised men advanced from one grade to another. Along the Niger River the Marka use the masks in ceremonies related to fishing and farming. The Marka dress their masks in gaily-colored costumes made of cloth; they often appear in pair, to represent man’s courting of woman.
Exhibited at “Celebrating African-American Heritage”
AlfaArt Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ February 2014