« Back

Bozo Sogo Kun mask

Bozo Sogo Kun mask
Bozo Sogo Kun maskBozo Sogo Kun maskBozo Sogo Kun maskBozo Sogo Kun mask
Tribe: Bozo
Country: Mali
Ritual: Age Grade Entertainment
Name: Sogo kun
Materials: Wood, paint
Provenance: Coll. Moulaye Lebass Sanogo Segou region Mali 2006. Andrew Turley, Bamako Mali, 2007
Comments: The teeth and the painted patterns are an unusual feature of this mask. Holes have been drilled in the jaw and sharpened wooden spikes inserted. This is a recent but interesting mask with an estimated age circa 2000.

Like Kono, the mens association known as Kore seems to be disappearing in Bamana communities. Kore once sponsored a vibrant form of theatre, challenging immoral authority and hypocritical morality through the sexually explicit gestures and buffoonery of its masquerades. Dancers promoted common decency by mocking outrageous and irresponsible behaviour. Performances featured both puppets and masqueraders who wore wooden face masks in the shape of the lazy or wily animals they portrayed.

Kore's role in exposing human frailties, and in reinforcing the common values of society, is partially filled today in Mande-speaking regions by community age-grades. These associations, usually called Kamelon Ton, organize young men and women into groups by age, just as Ntomo or Tyi Wara once did. Yet they have no boliw, no alters allowing them to manipulate nyama. Their displays are open to all, and although individuals may enhance their performance skills with mystical substances and prayers, the festivities themselves have few religious overtones.

This mask was possibly used in combined masquerades and puppet plays/entertainments put on by young mens age-grade associations (kamalen-ton) especially in the region around Segou.

In addition to human marionettes carved of wood which embody various characters, animal figures and masks (sogo-kun) also appear. They are expressive and are strongly coloured with oil paints.

"Sogo-bò", is a puppet masquerade drama that did originate with Bozo fishermen. By the late nineteenth century, however, Bamana within Ségou began to adopt the masquerade theater and throughout the last century it flourished in these farming communities. It now has a regional identity and is performed in many Bamana communities within south central Mali. It is defined by the community as nyènajè (entertainment) and tulon (play).


  1. Mary Jo Arnoldi, Bamana Art of Existance in Mali, Museum for African Art, New York, Museum Rietberg, Zürich, edit. by Jean Paul Colleyn, 2003:77
  2. Iris Hahner-Herzog, Maria Kecskesi, Laszlo Vajda, African Masks from the Barbier-Mueller Collection, Prestel, New York. 1998:240
  3. A History of Art in Africa. Harry N. Abrams. 2001.
  4. African Sculpture Speaks. Ladislas Segy. 1975.
  5. Masks of Black Africa. Ladislas Segy. 1976.