Lot: 217

Big board-shaped female mask "bedu"

Côte d'Ivoire, Nafana

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
French Private Collection H: 78.3 inch 5000 EUR / 10000 EUR

wood, polychrome paint, plant fibre strings, min. dam., traces of insect caused damage, cracks, paint rubbed off. The Nafana are an ethnic group belonging to the so-called Senufo Cluster, living in the border land between the Ivory Coast and Ghana. A now defunct prototype of "bedu" was encountered in 1889, called "sakrobundi", the cult was suppressed for apparent "exploitation" of villagers and went underground. The "bedu" cult when it appeared about 1930, "dealt with positive issues" - such as human fertility, prevention of epidemics and internal social control - and was thus apparently tolerable to the colonial administrators. "Bedu" masks appear as male and female pairs, the males often having large, incurving horns above the facial plank. Maskers come out principally in the evening during the "zarau" festival, dancing gracefully (the female) or brusquely (the male) and touching women and children to bestow curative and fertilizing powers on them. These performances bless and purify the community.

Kreamer, Christine Mullen, African Vision, Washington 2007, p. 62, ill. 22