About this artwork
This majestic headdress embellished with upholstery tacks depicts the traditional Baga ideal of mature womanhood, with pendulous breasts that connote child-bearing and nurturing. The incised lines covering its surface mimic body scarification, and it was originally colored with pigments. These massive sculptures are worn by young men in entertainment masquerades that celebrate Baga ethnicity. In the late 1950s Baga art traditions and related religious practices were temporarily abandoned due to the introduction of Islam into the region and the “demystification” campaign of Guinea’s first president. The country achieved independence in 1958 after the Islamic Revolution of 1954–57, and this national program was aimed at purging traditional religion of its essential mysticism. In practice, demystification led to persecution and the massive destruction of ritual art. Baga culture and art was subsequently revived in the late 1980s.
- Female Headdress (Nimba, D'mba, or Yamban)
- Wood and brass tacks with traces of pigment
- 119.4 × 33 × 59.1 cm (47 × 13 × 23 1/4 in.)
- W. G. Field Fund, Inc.; Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson