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Chi Wara Dance Crest

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unknown Bamana

Chi Wara Dance Crest

Late 19th century - Mid 20th century
Carved, painted, and incised wood with paint

11 7/8 in. x 8 in. (30.16 cm x 20.32 cm)
Gift of Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.3.46
Other Number(s): 38 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Geography: Africa, Mali, Central and Southern Mali
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Bamana, Malian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
In preparation for becoming future spouses, Bamana youth in Mali who have reached a certain age-grade are chosen to dance as the male Ci Wara (also spelled Tyi Wara, both pronounced as Chi Wara) and his female companion. The word ci refers to farming while the word wara is generally translated as “wild beast.” In addition to preparing the youth for marriage, it also focuses on the importance of agriculture to the community, since the Bamana believe that theCi Wara taught mankind how to cultivate the land.

This Ci Wara headdress is known as a vertical dance crest because the horns point upward. Horizontal dance crests also exist, with their horns lying back. The triangular cut-outs on the body signify that this is a male Ci Wara.

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Chi Wara Dance Crest |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=9/23/2021 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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