Senufo Masks

Particular helmet by Senufo ethnic group

Particular helmet by Senufo ethnic group, which emerges from the classic masks or helmets used for rites. It differs because of its simple design, which does not represent animals or ancestors’ faces, but two horns and two figures, respectively in the front and in the back, like two sentinels. To embellish this dance helmet there are some shells that surround the artifact, like a crown, on the rough texture.

Particular helmet by Senufo ethnic group

Kpelie or Kodal mask

This kind of masks are ‘classical’ Senufo. For the most part they have a small, mask face with slit eyes, a narrow, inwardly curving nose and a small, round, closed and protruding mouth. They also have tribal scarification marks on the forehead, on both cheeks and next to the mouth. Additionally these Kpelie (or Kodal) masks have a crest above with horns on the side, projections alongside the cheeks on both sides and two ‘legs’ next to the chin. These are often interpreted as parts of the most important sacrificial animals of the Senufo people (wethers and chickens). The Kpelie masks belong to the male Poro association and are worn by young dancers in costumes. They perform at funerals and other important ceremonies.

Kpelie or Kodal mask

Helmet for tribal dance by Senufo

It is characterized by a small carved female figure, placed on the top of the hat, while holding a sort of decorated arch. As highlighted by the pronounced breasts and belly, this figure symbolizes the concept of fertility. The entire artwork is decorated with important geometric incisions.

Helmet for tribal dance by Senufo

Senufo double mask with horns

This beautiful mask, by Senufo ethnic group, combines features of animals and humans in a single design. The face is dominated by a very distinguishing feature: the double nose and the double mouth. The other massive artwork’s elements are the horns; they refer to the ram, an important sacrificial animal. Where the two horns connect, there’s a restoration work, carried out in the mask’s place of origin.

Senufo double mask with horns

Waniugo ritual Janus helmet mask of Wambele dance

The Senufo are an ethnic group found in the northern Ivory Coast, in Mali and in Burkina Faso. They are characterized by being skilled farmers and craftsmen. Above all, the Senufo are renowned for their ability to shape wood, from which derived their beautiful sculptures and masks, used during tribal dances or religious rituals. The art of the Senufo is so much recognized that their works are among the most famous and imitated in the African world.

Waniugo ritual Janus helmet mask of Wambele dance