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Cap mask
Date: Early 20th century
Medium: Wood, plant fiber, pigment, encrustation
Dimensions: H x W x D: 11.4 x 12.7 x 39.4 cm (4 1/2 x 5 x 15 1/2 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Walt Disney World Co., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company
Geography: Mali
Object Number: 2005-6-239
Search Terms:
Initiation
crocodile
Funerary
Exhibited: Currents: Water in African Art

Dogon masks are part of a complex ritual cycle and play an important role in initiation and funeral ceremonies. Since the 1930s, they have also been used in a variety of entertainment performances. Crocodile masks vary from village to village; this mask is smaller than many and has carved as well as painted patterns. The zigzag design suggests flowing water, referring to the natural habitat of the crocodile and to the fluid nature of the nommo, the mythic beings involved in the creation of mankind and culture. The crocodile is described positively as a servant of the nommo and a protector of scarce pools of water.

Wood helmet mask in the shape of a crocodile head with a lengthy, open mouth and an openwork zigzag design atop the crest of the mask.

Paul and Ruth Tishman, New York, -- to 1984


Currents: Water in African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 2016-ongoing



Artful Animals, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., July 1, 2009-July 25, 2010



African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 15, 2007-March 31, 2009


Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 148-149, no. 43.



National Museum of African Art. 2007. 2007-2008 School Calendar: Featuring the new Let's Read about Africa and the Sounds of African Music programs. Museum calendar. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, February 2008.


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