Headdress (ci wara)

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Mali


Overall: 39.8 x 21.5 x 52 cm (15 11/16 x 8 7/16 x 20 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, basketry, beads, string

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



Most collections formed after World War II contain antelope headdresses-iconic works of African art. They were part of a mask belonging to the members of the ci wara association, which initiates young men into adult tasks, among them the cultivation of the fields. This headdress, inserted into a basketry cap, depicts a female antelope, anteater, or pangolin (a type of anteater). According to Bamana thought, both animals and the snake taught men the art of farming, for they knew the secrets of the earth.


1960s, acquired in Bamako, Mali, by 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