African Chimera

African chimera

Ciwara headdresses are among the best known African artworks. These unparalleled masterpieces from the Bamana (Mali) and Senoufo (Mali and Ivory Coast) cultures constitute enigmatic and emblematic symbols of African art and these splendid headdresses have provoked many a clichéd response. There are few traditional sculptures in Africa that have aroused as much admiration on the part of art lovers and collectors. This catalogue aims to fill this gap and to offer a summary of the latest findings on the subject. It also points to the permeability of artistic borders and the way these types of objects are used, since they are brought out not only during agrarian rites but several times in the course of the year (for entertainment, or important ceremonies such as funerals, or to counteract the effect of snake bites…) It also emphasises the Museum’s rich collection, which has no international equivalent, by including fifty-five illustrations of its masks at the end of the volume.


96 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format
70 illustrations, and 55 reproductions in the catalogue raisonné
price : 25 €
Isbn 2-915133-15-8 / 88-7439-318-0

A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/ 5 Continents

exhibition curator

Lorenz Homberger, assistant director of the Rietberg Museum, Zurich


Jean-Paul Colleyn, director of studies at EHESS and Aurélien Gaborit, in charge of the Africa collections, musée du quai Branly

contemporary photographs by Catherine De Clippel

More information

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