Photographs © Tim Hamill
These brooding, often quite large, masks represent a forest spirit, Landai. They were used by the men's Poro Society to initiate boys into manhood. The masks, in what was often a frightening ritual for the boys, would symbolically swallow the boy, who would then re-emerge as a man. The masks were worn with a large raffia costume. Most have a flat face, the traditional beaked nose, jaws of teeth, protruding brow and horns. Despite their appearance most of these Toma masks show no evidence of age or use and were probably made to be sold.
We also are showing several Toma posts, adorned with similar mask-like heads.
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