Collection highlights

Nimba

Mask „Nimba“
Baga, Guinea.
Wood. 77 cm high.


One of the most attractive objects in the Museum of African Arts, also one of the most intriguing, is known by the name of Nimba. This piece was among the first to be aquisited by Veda and dr Zdravko Pecar for their collection which forms the base of the present-day museum.

This lavish headdress is unique in the art of the Africans. It originates among the Baga people living in Guinea, in the most western parts of the African continent. The Nimba was employed in rice harvest dance ceremonies performed in order to procure the fertility of the fields. The dancer carried it on his shoulders, holding the piece by its front legs, while his whole body was adorned in a costume made of vegetal fibers.

Nimba is assumed to represent a divinity of aboundance and fertilitiy, but the precise interpretation is yet to be obtained. It is also linked with pregnant women, and those wishing to secure their progeny.

From the aesthetic point of view, the dinamic and imaginative sculptural form of the Nimba, as well as the surreal and expressive symbolism, provide it with an extraordinary attraction.

Nimba is a misterious being belonging to the world of phantasy, its crest and beak symbolising power and virility, and large breasts suggesting fertility.

The scarifications on the face and breasts, as indications of tribal identity, as well as the intricately designed hairdress, imply that authentic meaning of this complex piece is to be sought in the historical and social context – the heritage of the Baga.

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