Vaa Bong (Initiation Helmet Mask)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Vaa-bong helmet masks are used during the initiation of young Mumuye boys into the Vaa-Bong cult. At the end of the initiation period, vaa-bong masquerades dance in male-only groups or in pairs with their female counterpart (considered their wives).

The masks are also danced during the funeral of male community members and are also used during ritual ceremonies to encourage successful harvests.

To see a vaa-bong performance, view the Arnold Rubin video HERE.

Distinguishing Features

    • Horns projecting from head
        • Upward curving and either & joined at the tips or parallel
        • Striations sometimes incised onto horns
    • Some have double knots protruding from forehead
    • Some have Row of raised lumps on forehead
    • Some have central ridge dividing the forehead
    • Eyes are engraved circles
    • Projecting mouth plates
        • Rounded and cylindrical
        • Small lines incised or painted onto perimeter of mouth (indicating teeth)

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