Lot: 133

97th Auction

Anthropomorphic face mask "ntomo"

Mali, Bamana

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
French Collection H: 22.8 inch 3000 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, remains of an old collection label

The social and spiritual life of the Bamana men is governed by six initiation societies ("dyow"). The "ntomo" is the first of these communities in many places.

The apprenticeship period of the "ntomo" comprises five years. During this time, uncircumcised boys are to be prepared for adulthood, taught rules of conduct, discipline and agricultural skills.

The "ntomo" mask appears to announce the start of a ritual or a puppet masquerade. It often appears in the dry season when the novices wander around the surrounding villages begging for alms and food.

The main feature of the "ntomo" mask are its horns, the number of which indicate its gender (in this case female). The horns are sometimes combined with a figure. The dancer carries a rod, which is said to have been used for the ritual flagellation of the boys.


Colleyn, Jean Paul (Hg.), Bamana, Zürich 2001, p. 96