chi-wara (Headdress)

About this object

History of use

A female Chi Wara (or Tyi Wara, etc.) headdress that is made to be danced as a pair with a male mask at harvest festivals to honour Chi Wara, a half human and half antelope mythical being who taught agriculture to the ancestors of the Bamana people. Together, the headdresses embody the ingredients necessary for successful cultivation. The headdress is attached to a wicker cap, which is strapped around the chin of a dancer.

Iconographic meaning

The long horns represent the tall growth of millet. The baby on the back of the female represents all humankind.

Physical description

Dark brown stylized, antelope-like figure with an extended horns, an exaggerated neck and an elongated humanoid head. A second, smaller figure, matching the first, stands on its back.