Featured Work of Art
Banda mask, 19th–20th century
Wood, pigment, raffia, modern textile
12 13/16 x 52 1/2 in. (32.5 x 133.4 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1964 (1978.412.307)
Collection Area: African Art
Subject Areas: Visual Arts, Science, English Language Arts, World History
Grades: Elementary School
Topics/Themes: Art and the Environment, The Art of Belief, Animals in Art
Students will be able to
- make connections between the art and environment of Guinea;
- link the physical structures of animals with their function; and
- recognize the cultural context of the Banda mask.
Visual Arts – Making Connections between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
Visual Arts – Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
Visual Arts – Understanding the Visual Arts in Relation to History and Cultures
Visual Arts – Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
Science – Life Science
English Language Arts – Evaluating Data
English Language Arts – Communication Skills
English Language Arts – Multicultural Understanding
World History – Era 7: An Age of Revolutions, 1750–1914
World History – Era 8: A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900–1945
World History – Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
Questions for Viewing
- Take a moment to look closely at the human and animal features on this mask. What do you notice?
- Three animals found in Guinea are the crocodile, antelope, and chameleon (share and examine photographs of these animals). Which details on this mask might be inspired by a crocodile? How do these features help the animal survive in the wild? (Repeat for other animals.)
- What other animals might have inspired this artist?
- While today masks like this one are danced for entertainment on national holidays and special occasions in Guinea, society elders once called upon Banda—the character the mask represents—to protect the community. If you were going to create a mask designed for protection, what other animal features would you include? Why?
Animals inspire not only the artists who make Banda masks but also the dancers who wear them. Imagine the dancer in action. One animal on the mask is a crocodile. Use your head, chest, and arms to show how the jaw of a crocodile might move. (Repeat for other animals.) How might we transition from the crocodile to the antelope? (Repeat for other animals.) Put the movements together in one fluid dance. Which movements would be most challenging to do while wearing the mask?
Materials: Image of a crocodile, antelope, and chameleon
Activity Setting: Museum
"Banda Mask [Baga peoples; Guinea] (1978.412.307)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)
Clarke, Christa. The Art of Africa: A Resource for Educators. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. Download the resource.
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers: The Art of Africa (PDF)
Roberts, Allen F. Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous. New York: The Museum for African Art, 1995.
Serpent headdress (A-Mantsho-ña-Tshol), 19th–20th century
Guinea, Niger River region; Baga peoples
68 1/2 x 6 5/8 x 17 in. (174 x 16.9 x 43.2 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.101)
Male and female antelope headdresses (Ci wara kun), 19th–20th century
Mali, Segou region; Bamana
Wood, metal bands
1978.412.435: H. 35 3/4 in. (90.8 cm); 1978.412.436: H. 28 in. (71.1 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964 (1978.412.435, 1978.412.436)
Author: Claire Moore
Affiliation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art