Bamana helmet crest

Q: Good day Mr Ibold, it is me again and I appreciate your support. Please find attached a mask also collected in the Congo during the 50’s. 70 cm long and covered in (dried) mud. And most certainly weathered. Jan, 1573

A: The only problem with the description is that it implies made in the Congo area. Actually, it was made in Mali, far away in the northwest of Africa. This helmet crest is called a Komo by the Bamana people of Mali and is worn on the masquerader’s head. I think yours is authentic.

The most important society for the Bamana was the Komo, whose members were grouped by age. Almost every young man entered Komo after passing through Ndomo where he was circumcised. Komo also supervised marriage, burial, the ancestor culture and more.

The long, horizontal headdresses appear to be modeled after different animals. The most obvious creature would be the crocodile with his long snout. If the ceremony was at a river or lake, the men could walk through the deep water and look like a swimming crock. A

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