Chi Wara Headcrest

mid 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Mali


53 x 60 cm (21 x 24 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, fiber

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



The Bamana Ci wara association with which this work is identified celebrates the vital spirit of agriculture and, by extension, the fruitfulness of both the earth and humans and the ideas of regeneration. Antelope headdresses, which like nearly all Bamana wood carvings are made by blacksmiths, appear as male and female pairs at sowing and at harvest competitions, as well as at marriages. The female here displays a baby on its back, a feature typical of the type. Affixed to basketry caps, both horizontal and vertical genres exhibit stylized pierced shapes with degrees of abstraction, and are best seen in profile.


March 11, 1978, sold by the Gallery of Primitive Man, New Orleans, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1996, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: December 18, 1996 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel