Senofu Kponyungo Firespitter Mas

KPONYUNGO FIRESPITTER MASK
19th Century

Senofu Peoples, Ivory Coast
Wood, pigment, 14 in.
Extended Loan Ann Takashige
L1970.004.001

This is a type of head mask known as the firespitter, or kponyungo. This literally means "head of the one who died," a name that underscores the primarily funerary nature of this mask type. It is used by members of the Poro male society of the Senofu peoples to embody aggressive supernatural forces that can be called into action to drive away evil. These forces are expressed in the mask by the presence of the ithreatening totemic animals that collectively make up the mask, such as the fierce warthog, buffalo, and crocodile, among others. The Poro also use this mask in initiation rites and other ceremonies that require an aggressive attitude.

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