Hyena Mask (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th-20th century
Bamana
wood
Mali
Overall: 12 1/2 × 5 × 7 3/4 in. (31.75 × 12.7 × 19.69 cm)
2005.12
Hyenas, doglike carnivores found throughout Africa and Asia, are regarded as strange and uncouth creatures and are often viewed with both fear and contempt. Their forelegs are longer than their hind legs, giving them an odd stance and gait. While they can hunt on their own in packs, they are often scavengers, taking food from other animals.

A Bamana men’s organization, the kore society, concerns itself with proper behavior and social mores. Kore members wear hyena masks in performances that illustrate how not to behave. In kore society initiation rituals, the hyena is represented as an assistant to the lion.
From the Robert and Nancy Nooter Collection, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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