Marka (Warka), Mali
Male tji wara (antelope headdress). The Marka are a Mande subgroup. This ethnic group is independent from the Bambara but their styles show a strong Bambara influence. They live in the region that extends from the north of the Bambara to the Senegalese border. The dry savanna permits no more than a subsistence economy, and the soil produces, with some difficulty, millet, rice, and beans. Among the best known of their associations is the tji wara. Tji means work, and wara means animal, thus the word means working animal. When these headdresses were worn at agricultural festivities before the rainy season and when the fields were cleared, they did work in the mind of the Marka, since they were supposed to increase the fertility of the earth and increase yields. This very unusual tji wara presents the antelope by the horns and includes the image of a horse. In the past the purpose of this association was to encourage cooperation among all members of the community to ensure a successful crop. In recent time, however, the concept of tji wara has become associated with the notion of good farmer, and the tji wara masqueraders are regarded as a farming beast. Always performing together in a male and female pair, the coupling of the antelope masqueraders speaks of fertility and agricultural abundance. According to one interpretation, the male antelope represents the sun and the female the earth. In this tji wara headdress human and antelope features are combined.
Material: wood, metal sheeting, cotton tassels
Size: H. 28½, W. 2½, D.