X87.54 Dance Headdress

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Dance Headdress
Guinea or Guniea Bissau
Nalu or Baga peoples
Wood and pigment
H: 135.5 cm (H: 53.3 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. X87.54

Category:
Description

This massive wooden headdress represents Banda, a high and powerful spiritual being of the Nalu or Baga people of Guinea and Guinea Bissau. A century ago the Banda masquerade appeared only to privileged elders for whom it was danced at male initiations, marriages, harvest celebrations and new planting rituals, and at the appearance of the new moon. A single village might have had two or three Banda headdresses that could appear separately or together. Today, Banda’s dance is regarded largely as general entertainment and may be performed on any special occasion. The Banda headdress is a composite of a number of animal and human forms. The face, scarification patterns and coiffure of braided hair with a high crest are anthropomorphic. Zoomorphs include the jaw of a crocodile, the ears and horns of an antelope, the coiled tail of a chameleon (between the horns), and the body of a serpent (looping through the chameleon tail). The model two-story building on the Joss Banda, and on several masks in other collections, reflects the European style of architecture erected by the numerous traders who settled along the rivers during the mid-nineteenth century, as well as by the Catholic missionaries (Les Peres du Saint Esprit), who established their first mission in the Baga area in 1875.

Source: Ross, Doran H. ed. (1994): “Visions of Africa”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 49

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