This type of mask, called kpelie, is worn among Senufo peoples of Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Mali in West Africa. It combines a human face with features of different animals. The face is meant to represent the Senufo ideal of female beauty. The marks on the face represent scarification marks, decorative scars made by lightly and carefully cutting the surface of the skin. The bird on the top of the mask represents the hornbill bird, believed by the Senufo to have been one of the first animals to inhabit the earth. The mask's horns and ears refer to the antelope and symbolize strength and power. The posts on either side of the chin help to connect the spirit to the earth. Kpelie masks are only part of an elaborate dance garment. The dancer also wears an elaborate robe made of knotted fibers with long strands of fiber hanging at the sleeves and ankles. He dances so that the mask and garment are in constant motion. Such a dance ensemble is worn during a variety of occasions, including initiation ceremonies held for adolescents transitioning into adulthood, funeral rituals, and harvest festivals to thank the ancestors for a good crop. This one was made during the 1970s.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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Senufo (African people)
Senufo (African people)--Social life and customs
Rites and ceremonies
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