Masquerade headpiece



This is a Senufo Kponungo or ‘Funeral Head mask’ often erroneously called ‘fire-spitter’ masks. The mask draws imagery from a number of wild animals, often including buffalo, warthog, crocodile, antelope, chameleon, bird and snake. This one was probably made for sale, but in examples made for use, there is often a ‘cup’ on top which is filled with special ‘medicine’ that serves to guarantee its efficacy and power. Masks of this type are owned by men’s anti-witchcraft associations and may perform at funerals and at other times when the wellbeing of the community is disrupted. The Kponungo masquerade harnesses spiritual powers of the wild in order to combat witches and malevolent bush spirits or spirits of the dead.