About this object

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.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Mask
  • Culture
    Senufo
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Western Africa: Ivory Coast
  • Date made
    1965 before
  • Materials
    Wood
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Purchase from Gallery 43, 1966
  • Collector
    Philip Goldman
  • Place collected
    Africa: Western Africa
  • Date collected
    1965 before
  • Measurements
    333 mm x 315 mm x 815 mm
  • Note
    Stockbook: “Fire-Spitter mask (Senufo). Purchased from Gallery 43, 43 George Street, London, W.1. in 1965 by Richard Hutchings, Keeper of Ethnography, with War Damage Fund.
  • Related people
    Philip Goldman ( Collector)
Object view = Humanities
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