1. Let’s take a look at two crest masks representing a mythical creature called the Chi Wara (chee-WAH-rah).
2. Visual Thinking Strategy:
What do you see in the artworks?
What do you see that makes you say so?
What else do you notice?
3. The Chi Wara spirit is believed to have taught the Bamana people how to farm on the drylands of the savannah in Mali. In their culture, only the best farmers can wear these masks.
4. The Chi Wara is a creature that is a combination of three different animals. These animals represent the qualities of a good farmer. Which three animals do you think make up the Chi Wara?
Antelope: they are known for their speed and endurance.
Aardvark: they use their long nose to smell out ants and then dig out the ants with their front claws and eat them.
Pangolin: they curl up in a ball when threatened. They also love to dig up and eat ants.
5. Now it’s your turn to try and find it! Try and find the three types of animals on the Chi Wara masks.
6. How would you wear this mask?
The Chi Wara mask is meant to be worn on your head. The horizontal Chi Wara gives us a clue it is attached to a woven cap. Both of these crest masks would be worn on top of the head!
When wearing the mask, the Bamana people cover their bodies in raffia grasses to fully embody the Chi Wara spirit. They also hold long sticks to represent the Chi Wara walking on all four legs.