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Male version of Chi Wara headdress

Q:  I was wondering if this headdress was made for tourists or if it was made for ceremonial purposes? I believe it to be 19th century and made by Africans. It was giving to me by my grandfather, and I know he purchased it for less than 100 dollars at an antique store. The owner had no clue how old it was so my grandfather took a chance. Hopefully its not something made for export.  Height is 28 without the base, with basket it is 34. Width is 9 inches.  Aaron, 1183

 

A:  This beautiful male Chi Wara Headdress from the Bamana people of Mali is used to celebrate agricultural ceremonies. It represents the male antelope spirit. The last photo is the smaller female version where the penis shape is replaced by a baby antelope on her back. You might want to add one of these females to your collection.

Now to your first question about authenticity. Though your male version looks like it might have been made for ceremonial purposes, I am 99% sure it was made for tourists or the export market. Reproducing old carvings has become a very important industry in Africa, and they are good at making masks look old and used.  B

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