mask (dance & live theatre)

Wood mask of a "fire-spitter".

This is a Senufo Kponungo or ‘Funeral Head mask’ often erroneously called “fire-spitter” masks. The mask draws imagery from a number of wild animals, often including buffalo, warthog, crocodile, antelope, chameleon, bird and snake. There is also often a ‘cup’ on top which is filled with special ‘medicine’ that serves to guarantee its efficacy and power. The masks are owned by men’s anti-witchcraft associations and may perform at funerals and at other times when the wellbeing of the community is disrupted. The Kponungo masquerade harnesses spiritual powers of the wild in order to combat witches and malevolent bush spirits or spirits of the dead.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: