Nimba (Fertility Headdress)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


During important harvest festivals, weddings, funerals and celebrations to honour village guests and ancestors, a d'mba (also called nimba or yamban; meaning 'the universal mother') headdress is carried on the shoulders of a skilled male performer and danced through the village.

Said to be a symbol of maturity, fertility and femininity, d'mba performances are used to demonstrate community ideals of purity and social behaviour and also to ensure the future fertility and prosperity of women, the land and the community at large.

Distinguishing Features

  • Carved from a single piece of wood
  • Weigh more than 30kg - can weight up to 60kg
  • Braided coiffure on either side of high central crest
  • Coiffure enhanced with metal studs
  • Large head
  • Narrow face
  • Heavily outlined eyes
  • Prominent aquiline nose
  • Protruding 'C' shaped ears
  • Tiny tubular mouth
  • Slender cylindrical neck supported by a yoke
  • Four projecting legs
  • Flat, prominent breasts
  • Two pierced viewing holes between breasts
  • Incised linear scarification marks decorate face, neck, and breasts
  • Thick raffia skirt attached to bottom of yoke
  • NOTE: D'mba headdresses enhanced with ear ornaments and polished with oil just before performances

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