X86.2972 Jolly Face Mask

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Jolly Face Mask
Artist: Amara Kamara
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Temne peoples
Wood, pigment, fabric, netting, beads, metal, fiber
L: 19.1 cm, H: 75.0 cm, D: 14.0 cm (L: 7.5 in, H: 29.5 in, D: 5.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Anonymous Gift. X86.2972


Another mask to be considered is from Freetown and was more likely carved by Temne artist Amara Kamara who at the time of my research had several sculptures of Mammy Wata in his home. The female Hindu facial mark on the forehead and between the eyes indicates that this character may represent Mammy Wata with dreadlocks, possibly a reference to Rasta boys of the Caribbean and by extension the mermaids Lasiren and/or Yemanja. A photograph of the mask worn with complete costume is revealing. The suit, assembled and worn by Amara Kamara, includes a blond wig, lace scarf, and cloth shawl together with a full-length skirt, long stockings, and gloves. Rather than a representation of Mammy Wata, this character may simply depict a Freetown woman, sought by young men through the spirit of Mammy Wata.

Source: Drewal, Henry John. (2008) “Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 79