Bamana Ci-Wara Headdress
Before visiting the museum, my teacher in African History class taught us the basic concept about Chi-ware. According to Professor Russ, there are three types of masks associated with Chi-ware namely; the vertical style which represents the East, the horizontal style which represents the West, and the composite style which represent the South. An addition, Chi-ware can be male or female. Notably, a female Chi-ware mask can be noticed by the presence of a baby antelope and straight horns on it. On the other hand, male Chi-ware mask is recognized by bent horns and a phallus.
Moreover, a Chi-ware mask is used in the initiation in the society as it is used in agriculture and as costume in dancing. Furthermore, the mask is used to teach young Bamana men for social values and agricultural techniques . On the day we visited the gallery of Spurlock Museum: Africa section: Champion Cultivators of the Land, I discovered that I missed a lot of information. In the museum, there were various masks, paintings, sculptures, and pots. The specific sculpture of Bamana Chi-Wara Headdress called my attention. The sculpture was also labelled Mali or Guinea, ca.
19th-20th c. Wood pigment; it is Gift of Drs. Albert V. and Marguerite Carozzi. 1990. 10. 0014. Sinificantly, in Bamana society, the term Chi-ware, pronounced as “Chee wah-rah” indicates a man who is champion cultivator and the social organization through which he attains that distinction. Upon examining at the sculpture of Chi-ware, I noticed that the size was bigger that what I expected. The size was approximately 50cm x 30cm. According to our professor, Mr. Rush, a Chi-ware can be easily recognized whether it is a male or female.
However, it was quite a difficulty for me. But them, I looked closely at the Chi-ware and fugured that it is a male one because it has no baby back on the body. Moreover, the Chi-ware looked like a Roan Antelope with an almost human face attached. The bottom the body is also elongated and short legged which represents the aardvark. Furthermore, Bamana is carved with texture and is polished smoothly with palm oils. I learned more about Ch-i-ware in didactic label. In didactic label, Ci-wara is said to be a mythical being, half man and half animal, and the son of Muso Koroni.
Meanwhile, Muso Koroni is the mother of all living things and the matron of agriculture. After teaching humans to farm, Ci-Wara became offended at their laziness. So, he dug a hole with his great claws and buried himself. According to the myth, men carved a mask in the memory of Chi-ware and used it as a trophy in farming contests to encourage the young and able-bodied men to exert greater efforts in farming. Eventually, Chi-ware then became the name of the Banana masquerade society devoted to the development of manhood and social responsibility.
More importantly, Chi-ware was said to be the mother of tall living things and matron agriculture. The didactic explanation about Chi-ware led me realize that a Chi-ware headdress is used i honoring the mythical antelope that introduced and brought agriculture to the Bamana people of Mali. But I consider interesting the part of the story where Chi-wara was offended at people’s laziness and dug a hole where he buried himself. To sum up, the visit to the Spurlock Museum: Africa section: Champion Cultivators of the Land is fun. It is so because it was my very first time to personally encounter a Chi-ware.
In addition, I was so happy that I had acttually seen what was discussed to us in class about Chi-ware. Moreover, I learned more anout the hidden story about Chi-ware and its importance in the present day. Today, the people wear the Chi-ware when they dance as a symbol of hope for a greater crop for the year. Although Chi-ware has been considered merely as a mask, the Mali people consider it as a valuable thing as they use it when they pray and celebrate. Thus, the visit to the museum is not only interesting but also educational.