Bull Helmet Mask

   Dugn'be or Bull Helmet Mask
  Dugn'be or Bull Helmet Mask used by the Bidjogo people of Guinea Bissau

The year is 1535. You’re a conqueror – fearless, capable of enduring unimaginable hardships. You came to a cluster of islands off the west coast of Africa for “easy pickings;” a mere appetizer before you hit the mainland. No one could possibly stop your cannons, muskets and sabers, or your transport – mighty floating fortresses sitting high above the water.  No one could stop you in your armor, shining brightly in the moonlight. Or so you thought!  Now it is you who are vanquished, limping home on a damaged hull bobbing in the water as it moves slowly forward, the wind whistling through tattered sails. You never even disembarked. You have been defeated. Not by cannonballs, lead shot or steel blades, but by spears and arrows, speed, agility, and most of all, fear.

Green glass is used to embellish the eyes of Dugn'be masks  
Green glass is used to embellish the eyes of Dugn'be masks  

The week’s New Arrival features a helmet mask known as a Dugn’be, or bull mask, created by the Bidjogo people, a small tribal group who live on islands off the coast of Guinea Bissau in west Africa. The Bidjogo are not known as mighty warriors. They are fishermen and farmers, but very clever. When confronted by European invaders they sent a fleet of canoes with men wearing Dugn’be masks. As the men skimmed across the water, standing tall, illuminated by the moon, their enemy hesitated and asked, “What are these creatures?” In that moment arrows and spears were unleashed, confusion reigned, and fear took over. The Dugn’be, normally used to destroy fear during Bidjogo initiation ceremonies had the opposite effect when used in a different form of commencement – leading one to believe fear can be mastered!

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This stool is part of a much larger collection of authentic African art and masks