In numerous African cultures, initiation constitutes a key stage in the life of each individual and of the community. In Western Africa, this apprenticeship is known as Poro.
Around every seven years, the start of the initiation is announced by the appearance of costumed and masked people within the village.
The initiation includes a period of seclusion in a secret place at the heart of the forest. The young people are removed from their family environment and taken to a sacred place.
At the end of the initiation, a mask devours the children, engulfing them in its mouth. When it spits them out, the scarifications indicate that they become adults.
Several componants - animal fur, metal - may be added to the wood to decorate and reinforce the power of the mask.
This is the best known of the Toma masks. The lack of mouth is it is intrinsically linked to secrecy
Bakorogui masks indicate the presence of the ancestors in a generic manner. The creased or lowered eyes are considered as a sign of beauty and discretion.The open mouth indicates that, the mask may speak during its appearances.
Production—Hélène Fulgence, Directrice du développement culturel du musée du quai Branly