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Chi Wara Headress

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  • subez
    I am new to the group and am hoping someone might be able to help me with a piece I recently acquired. I think that it is a Chi Wara Headress. The
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 8, 2005
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      I am new to the group and am hoping someone might be able to help me
      with a piece I recently acquired. I think that it is a Chi Wara
      Headress. The interesting thing about it is the figure on the
      bottom. I have seen photos of other pieces but none with the dog like
      head on the bottom. I have created a photo folder called "Chi Wara
      Headress" with some photos of the piece in it. Any information would
      be appreciated.

      http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/african_arts/lst?.dir=/Chi+Wara+Headress&.src=gr&.order=&.view=t&.done=http%3a//briefcase.yahoo.com/
    • Steve Price
      Hi Subez It s a Chi Wara alright. The head of the lower figure is within the range that is found on such pieces. I don t think it is authentic in the sense
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 8, 2005
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        Hi Subez

        It's a Chi Wara alright. The head of the lower figure is within the
        range that is found on such pieces.

        I don't think it is "authentic" in the sense of having been made for
        and used within the community. It appears to have been made for sale
        to Americans or Europeans for decorative purposes.

        My reasons for thinking this are,
        1. the edges are relatively sharp and angular, rather than worn
        smoothly and somewhat rounded from handling and exposure;
        2. the surface patination doesn't seem appropriate to an object that
        developed it through handling.

        If you acquired it for decorative purposes, I think you made a nice
        choice. It has a nice flowing quality to it, and relates to an
        interesting ethnographic tradition.

        Regards,

        Steve Price



        --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "subez" <subez@a...> wrote:
        > I am new to the group and am hoping someone might be able to help
        me
        > with a piece I recently acquired. I think that it is a Chi Wara
        > Headress. The interesting thing about it is the figure on the
        > bottom. I have seen photos of other pieces but none with the dog
        like
        > head on the bottom. I have created a photo folder called "Chi Wara
        > Headress" with some photos of the piece in it. Any information
        would
        > be appreciated.
        >
        >
        http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/african_arts/
        lst?.dir=/Chi+Wara+He
        adress&.src=gr&.order=&.view=t&.done=http%3a//briefcase.yahoo.com/
      • Rand African Art
        Hello and welcome! Thanks for sharing your piece with the group, it is indeed a Bamana Chi Wara/Tji wara headdress. There are various styles of the horizontal
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 8, 2005
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          Hello and welcome!
          Thanks for sharing your piece with the group, it is indeed a Bamana Chi Wara/Tji wara headdress.
           
          There are various styles of the horizontal ones, and it is usually attributed to different regional style differences and the horizontal ones are usually from Southern Mali. Some have figures on top of the horns, some have heads coming out of the front like yours, some have no figures, some the tails are curled and some are stubbed.
           
          Off of the top of my head I can't remember the significance or meaning of the figures like yours has? I don't have my books at my disposal at the moment.
           
          A great resource on the Bamana is: BAMANA Art of Existence
          It is out of print though and may be harder to find.
          The link below shows ones in the same general style as yours, I can't remember off the top of my head which publication this was from:
           
          Below is my favorite general interpetation of the Bamana Chi Wara headdresses:
           

          Horizontal style

          Few objects are so generally identified with African art as the Bamana "antelope" headdress. It is actually a complex object, with tremendous variations in style and technique, but share the same symbolism. The differences are usually attributed to the regional styles set forth in 1960 by Robert Goldwater, whose work relied on museum-

          based research and the 1934-35 field data of F. H. Lem.

           

          Most African sculptures are carved from one piece of wood, but the horizontal style of antelope mask uses two: one for the head and neck, and one for the body.

           

          The tji wara society members use a headdress representing, in the form of an antelope, the mythical being who taught men how to farm. The word tji means “work” and wara means “animal,” thus “working animal.” There are antelopes with vertical or horizontal direction of the horns. In the past the purpose of the tji wara association was to encourage cooperation among all members of the community to ensure a successful crop. In recent time, however, the Bambara concept of tji wara has become associated with the notion of good farmer, and the tji wara masqueraders are regarded as a farming beast. The Bambara sponsor farming contests where the tji wara masqueraders perform. Always performing together in a male and female pair, the coupling of the antelope masqueraders speaks of fertility and agricultural abundance.

           

          According to one interpretation, the male antelope represents the sun and the female the earth. The antelope imagery of the carved headdress was inspired by a Bambara myth that recounts the story of a mythical beast (half antelope and half human) who introduced agriculture to the Bambara people. The dance performed by the masqueraders mimes the movements of the antelope. Antelope headdress in the vertical style, found in eastern Bambara territory, have a pair of upright horns while in the Southern regions they are generally found with horizontal horns like the example below. The dancers appeared holding two sticks in their hands, their leaps imitating the jumps of the antelopes.



          subez <subez@...> wrote:
          I am new to the group and am hoping someone might be able to help me
          with a piece I recently acquired.  I think that it is a Chi Wara
          Headress.  The interesting thing about it is the figure on the
          bottom.  I have seen photos of other pieces but none with the dog like
          head on the bottom.  I have created a photo folder called "Chi Wara
          Headress"  with some photos of the piece in it.  Any information would
          be appreciated.

          http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/african_arts/lst?.dir=/Chi+Wara+Headress&.src=gr&.order=&.view=t&.done=http%3a//briefcase.yahoo.com/




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