Kònò Helmet Mask, 19th–mid–20th century
Wood, sacrificial patina
H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm), W. 11 1/8 in. (28.2 cm), D. 40 5/8 in. (103.2 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969 (1978.412.361)
Kòmò and kònò associations construct helmet masks that express the organizations' power through their awesome and terrifying appearances. The two institutions extend across the western areas of West Africa and are among the most revered power associations in the region. Each organization fosters a unique body of knowledge, kept secret from men who are not members and most women. Members use their knowledge to counteract malevolence and manage complex social, psychological, and medical problems. The creation of this work combined the efforts of a professional sculptor to produce the structure with the knowledge of a kònò leader to add complementary esoteric materials to its surface.