helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)
helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)

helmet mask for Poro association (Landai)

Loma people

Currently on View in W305.c1.riser
Image Licensing

The men who wear these impressive masks, as helmets, can see through the snout. They appear during initiation activities of the men's Poro association. The masquerader escorts the boys into the initiation school in the bush and announces their return to the village.

As spiritual overseer of Poro initiation proceedings, the masker pretends to devour the youths. Later, they are believed to be reborn from his stomach, as though through a womb. The prominent teeth and red mouths of these masks may allude to the ritual devouring.

This mask's imagery combines the opposing forces of nature and civilization. Natural forces of the universe are symbolized by the "great bush spirit," which can be seen in the mask's great size and crocodile-like mouth with movable lower jaw. Civilization is symbolized by the "legendary first ruler," an ancestor who is identified by the nose and other human facial features-the beard, bushy eyebrows, and ear hair and nose hair of an elder.

Exhibition Label
• This rare mask was regarded as the spiritual overseer of initiation activities for the men’s Poro association, which supervises initiation rites and upholds law and order in Loma society. • During rituals, the masker symbolically devoured young boys so they could be reborn as men. • The prominent teeth and red mouths of these masks allude to the ritual devouring. “This particular monster is so attractive to me because I know what it is used for. They take the youngsters into the bush during their initiation period and this fellow is supposed to devour the youngsters. It’s so ugly and actually very rare.” —Harrison Eiteljorg

(Lamine) sold on Oct. 17, 1974 to Harrison Eiteljorg [1903-1997]; donated to the IMA 1989

Object Information

culture
Loma people
creation date
20th century
materials
wood, pigment, feathers, fiber, cloth, fur, hair, skin
dimensions
65 x 32 x 24 in.
accession number
1989.396
credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg
copyright
No Known Rights Holder
collection
African Art
colors

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