The Bidjogo (also known as Bijogo, Bijagó, Bidyogo and Bidyugo) people of Bissagos (also Bijagós) archipelago, in current day Guinea Bissau, hold initiation rituals for young girls and boys, according to their age group. These initiation processes are called Manratche. It is believed that only the initiated can become ancestors as the uninitiated can not create religious objects used for communicating with the afterworld, Ancaredo.
Each age-group makes use of a number of zoomorphic masks during the 'coming-of-age' Manratche ceremonies. As boys and girls age and progress toward full maturity, they wear more elaborate masks, mimicking the ferocity of the animals their masks represent. Four key types of masks exist:
The dugn'be (meaning 'the ox raised in the village') mask and the masquerader's dance symbolise the initiate's lack of control. A cord running through the nostrils of the mask indicates that the initiate needs to be tamed like the domesticated ox—his strength must be encouraged yet controlled.
The masks are worn before inmates leave the village for their period of seclusion in initiation camps. Once used and initiation complete, the masks are abandoned.
Wooden buffalo helmet mask in two pieces: