G3B8S515.jpg (31802 bytes)Baga (Bagga), Guinea & Guinea-Bissau

The Bird (a-Bemp) Headdress. The Baga people occupy the northern coast of Guinea and the southern coast of Guinea-Bissau. The art of the Baga is well-known to specialists, but we know little about the Baga people itself. A headdress shaped as a figure of a large bird has long been one of the most popular masquerades of young men and boys. It is called simply “the bird”. Each headdress may also bear a personal name in honor of a woman of the village. Many of these figures bear small birds on their backs. The headdress does not consistently represent any particular bird. The dance of a-Bemp is athletic. The dancer skips around the perimeter of the circle formed by the audience. He crouches and then leaps up; or, crouching, he tilts to the right and left. Accompanying the dancer are men beating the large slit gong, box drums suspended under their arms. The dance generally takes place at night, so a young man may follow a-Bemp with a torch made from a lit bundle of grass. A-bemp masquerade may be a sort of boys’ rehearsal for their important role in manhood.

Material:  wood

Size:   30”x12”x13”

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