This mask was made by the Toma tribe, located on the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Numbering about 200,000, they live in high altitude rainforests and are governed by the Poro Association, a secretive male led group. The Toma are also known by the names Loma or Lorma.
This mask is known as a landai mask. Landai masks symbolize a legendary ancestor, and appear when it is time for Toma boys to undergo initiation rites and return to the tribe as men who can then join the Poro society. They leave the village to undergo these rites in a process that lasts for several months. The education the boys receive covers tribal tradition, morality, and values. One of the last stages of the initiation involves the landai mask, which symbolically devours the Poro society candidates. This serves as a sort of rebirth that revives the initiates as men who can then re-enter society.
Landai masks like this one are distinguished by their flat foreheads, small noses that sit between the eyes and directly under flat, protruding eyebrows, and tiny tubular eye holes. They often feature horns with or without a human figure between them on the top of the mask, and can be decorated with carvings, cowrie shells, or other decorative materials.
11.5" x 5"