Photographs © Hamill Gallery
SENUFO, FIRESPITTER MASK 1, 22.5" x 14", $1200, Ivory Coast, SOLD
These large horizontal masks, composites of several animals, were called Kponungo, or "funeral head masks". The term "Firespitter" is used by outsiders. Used by both Poro and non-Poro male societies, these helmet masks embodied an aggressive supernatural power to combat any forces that might disrupt the well-being of the community. The powerful features of antelopes, buffaloes, crocodiles, warthogs, hornbills, chameleons and humans combined to symbolize power and to recall important myths. They were used in anti-witchcraft ceremonies.