Komo Society Mask
Arts of Africa
Bamana masks such as this one are worn and seen only by members of the Komo association, whose members harness the power (nyama) contained in the mask to aid members of the community. Powerful materials—including blood, chewed kola nuts, and millet beer—are applied to the mask, while prayers and sacrifices are offered. The open mouth and the horns, tusks, and porcupine quills symbolize the Komo’s power to punish those who violate its rules.
Wood, metal, antelope horns, porcupine quills, organic materials
late 19th-early 20th century
14 x 8 x 33 1/2 in. (35.6 x 20.3 x 85.1 cm) (show scale)
Animal mask to be worn on top of head. Long narrow head with pair of long antelope horns projecting horizontally from one end and three smaller pairs set along snout between pairs of bristles. Snout is pierced by 3 rectangular openings.
CONDITION: Completely covered with thick sacrificial patina. Many losses from insect damage. large piece of patina missing right rear. Two front pairs of horns are loose.
This item is not on view
Bamana. Komo Society Mask, late 19th-early 20th century. Wood, metal, antelope horns, porcupine quills, organic materials, 14 x 8 x 33 1/2 in. (35.6 x 20.3 x 85.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 69.39.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 69.39.3_version1_PS1.jpg)
overall, 69.39.3_version1_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license
. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.
Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.
This is known as the "Komo Society Mask" was made by an unidentified Bamana artist in Mali. As you may have already read only members of the Komo Society would ever see this mask. Constructed outside of the village in secret, it would have been warn to harness spiritual powers to aid the community. It has such a fearsome appearance, likely symbolizing the power and authority of the Komo. This mask holds great spiritual power and can be seen in many ways as a religious altar – with the many different additions to the masks surface holding intense spiritual power and symbolism.