Kòmò Helmet Mask (Kòmòkun), 19th–mid–20th century
Wood, encrustation, quills, tusks, bird skull
H. 10 in. (25.4 cm), W. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm), D. 33 7/16 in. (85 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton Lipkin, 1961 (1978.412.426)
Kòmò, a West African power association, promotes the well-being of the community and protects individuals from harm. Kòmò leaders invest significant resources in masks and other arts, including helmet masks that combine horizontal wooden sculptures of intimidating beasts with evocative animal matter. The masks are insignia of the profound knowledge and great power that the organization engenders. Kòmò leaders construct helmet masks and other works to assert their authority, deter criminals, and combat malevolent forces that threaten communities.