BAMANA CHI WARA HEADDRESSES, MALI

CHI WARA
Males

 CHI WARA,
Pairs

CHI WARA
Females
 

CHI WARA,
Horizontal

 

CHI WARA,
Abstract

 

CHI WARA,
Horizontal

Photographs © Tim Hamill

BAMANA, Chi Wara Headdressses, Mali

Bamana Chi Wara from Mali, represent and honor the mythological half man / half antelope hero who taught man how to cultivate the soil. They were danced in pairs and celebrate the union of male (sun), female (earth) and fibre costume (rain), signifying the cooperation needed for a successful harvest and community survival. They are worn as headdresses and danced as pairs. Spelled alternately Ci Wara, Tyi Wara, etc. they illustrate the diversity of ways to represent an unwritten pronunciation. There are three types of Chi Wara headdresses; the familiar vertical style of the eastern Bamana, the more realistic horizontal style of the northern Bamana and the varied and more abstract forms of the Southern Bamana. We also have a selection of small, iron Chi Wara which were not headdresses.

Despite their appearance, most of our Bamana headdresses show no evidence of age or use and were probably made to be sold.

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