This Bamana Hyena Suruku Society Mask is from the Bamana people of Mali. It is a classic example of a Kore society mask worn by adult Bamana males during the initiation of young men into adult status. All Bamana males advance age set societies, replete with various levels of initiation and secret knowledge. The Kore mask is employed by only the most senior of men representing their personal struggle to achieve knowledge and wisdom. The symbolism of this mask identifies it as a Kore society-mask combining human and hyena features. Traditionally, hyenas were thought by the Bamana to represent foolish behavior reflecting an uninformed view of the world, very much like the young male initiates. Carved in secret, the mask was made from a single piece of wood and stands as a demonstration of the skill of the Bamana artisan.
Koulikoro District, Mali
Donated to our museum by Dr. Pascal J. Imperato and Eleanor M. Imperato