‘Funeral Head mask’ (Kponungo) card

‘Funeral Head mask’ (Kponungo)

1968.7.5
This type of Senufo Kponungo or ‘Funeral Head mask’ has often erroneously been called a ‘fire-spitter’ mask. The mask draws imagery from a number of wild animals, often including buffalo, warthog, crocodile, antelope, chameleon, bird and snake. There is also often a ‘cup’ on top which is filled with special ‘medicine’ that serves to guarantee its efficacy and power. However, this mask does not seem to have been made with a ‘medicine’ container and would probably have been made for sale to collectors. Masks of this type were owned by men’s anti-witchcraft associations and would be performed at funerals and at other times when the wellbeing of the community is threatened. A primary purpose of the Kponungo masquerade is to harnesses spiritual powers of the wild in order to combat witches and malevolent bush spirits or spirits of the dead.