Requires Photography

Serpent Figure Headdress(bansonyi)

African, Guinea, Baga peoples
20th century
Artist Unidentified


Object Place: Guinea

Dimensions

Overall: 175 x 18 x 20 cm (68 7/8 x 7 1/16 x 7 7/8 in.)

Accession Number

2009.2565

Medium or Technique

wood, paint

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Decorative arts

This serpent headdress, known as “master of medicine”, is one of the most important figures in Baga cosmology. The serpent is associated with water, rainbows, fertility and wealth and can manifest itself as a being with human features. Spiritually potent objects such as this one could only be used by secret societies and clan heads because of the object’s association with male esoteric knowledge. The serpent headdress was also used for entertainment purposes and initiation rituals.

Provenance

1960, sold by the Galerie Carrefour, Paris, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart