Bedu (Moon Plank Mask)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Found among three main ethnic groups, the Nafana, the Kulango and the Degho, bedu masks (meaning 'moon') are believed to represent the physical manifestation of a domesticated buffalo-like spirit animal.

Danced in male and female pairs during a number of festivals including the Kulango, 'end of dry season', hunting festival, the Nafana new year full-moon ceremony (Dafiago) and the Zaurau festival, the masks are used to protect the villagers from danger and encourage fertility within the community. The masquerades also perform dances to educate the community on socially acceptable behaviour.

Distinguishing Features

  • Made from wood
  • Zoomorphic plank mask
  • Monumental in size; height up to 12 feet or 4 metres but usually 5 feet tall
  • Masks designed as two geometric shapes linked by a vertical upright
    • Diamond shape carved at bottom
    • Two pillars extend out of top of diamond
    • Pillars connected to U-shaped ‘horns’ (male mask) or full circle disk (female mask)
    • Three holes carved at centre (eye holes and hole for mouth)
  • Geometric patterns painted all over mask
    • Painted red (red stone and egg white), blue, white (kaolin and water) and black (burned husks of nadedigo tree and shea butter)

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