UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum


Poro Society Mask (kpongyugu),
20th c.
Senufo peoples, Côte d'Ivoire
Wood, pigment,
12.5 x 32 x 13.5 inches
Gift of Gilbert and Jean Jackson,

This expertly carved helmet mask, with its powerful crocodile jaws, protruding tusks of the wart hog, and the long horns of the antelope, represents the protective powers of the Poro men's society. The small hornbill bird and chameleon figures at the top of the head are sacred animals that played a role in the creation of the world. The masks are used in rituals connected with agriculture, initiations, and funerals, and are intended to inspire respect for the deadly powers of the Poro society.