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Baga Bansonyi Mask History And Meaning

Baga MaskBaga artists are well known for their multifunctional masks and statues. Amongst them are the Bansonyi masks (Serpent headdress that embodies the snake spirit Mantsho-na-tsol). The "bansonyi" lives in the sacred forest and only appears during initiation ceremonies when young men graduate as initiates. The mask can also be used for a wide variety of functions namely during funerals, to detect evil forces and cure sterility.

Present day uses of the masks are mainly during initiation ceremonies for both male and female initiates. Maskers are clad in raffia costumes and carry the large geometric designed mask adorned with feathers, ribbons and bells on their heads. The mask embodies the spirit of the snake and only adolescent males learn the secrets of the snake spirit during initiation camps.

The Baga also makes use of the Anok mask (bird heads), during harvest time and or funerary rites, The head, is hollowed out, has lozenge forms through which small horns filled with a magical substance is fitted.

About +50 000 Baga inhabitants live along the coastal lagoons in the southern part of Guinea. They believe in one God that is assisted by the male and female spirits. The Baga of Upper Guinea are divided into independent villages linked together only by the Simo.