Brass Covered Marka Mask

   Brass covered mask by the Mark people from Mali, West Africa
  Brass covered mask from the Marka people, Mali, West Africa

It’s dreamtime. You’re an antelope bounding across the grasslands of West Africa. No predator can catch you because you’re moving too fast. No hunter can catch you in their sights. Your muscles ripple and your hooves barely touch the ground as your springing lope brings you back to earth. The air rushes past your face and whistles in your ear. Any faster and you’d be taking off; and if a photographer could slow you down using their magic, you’d rightfully be called a dream subject. Suddenly you awake; and as the dream fades you realize why the antelope is revered by the Marka people of Mali, who honor the animal with one of the most famous masks in all of African art.

This Marka mask imbued the wearer with the strength and endurance of the antelope  
This Marka mask imbued the wearer with the strength and endurance of the antelope  

This week’s New Arrival features a Marka mask, which combines an abstract human face with an antelope’s horns. Distinctively covered in brass sheeting, which is molded to the wood and ornamented with colorful  cotton tassels and beads, its eyes gaze downward in a display of respect for the animal it portrays. The Marka use this in masquerade dances intended to bring about successful hunts, harvests and initiations; but unlike many masks from Africa and elsewhere it is more than a disguise. It is a direct link to the antelope’s speed, agility and endurance, qualities the Marka believe will cause the wearer of the mask to run as fast and free as the animal they portray.

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Part of a much larger collection of authentic masks and African art