TRIBAL AFRICAN ART

TOMA (LOMA)

Toma people of  Liberia and Guinea number 200,000 and leave in the high-altitude rain forest lying across the border between these two countries. The largest known Toma mask was 1.82 m in height. Its frightening image represented the major forest spirit which made manifest the power of poro; one of its duties was symbolically to devour boys during initiation in order to give them rebirth as men. Only men wore these masks, which were fitted over the wearer's head horizontally. Masks of smaller dimensions are identified as the wife of the great forest spirit and, lacking the extended maul, seem less threatening. It is worn directly over the male wearer's face. The upper part usually exhibits simplified (cattle or antelope) horn shapes and a rounded forehead overhanging a short, abstractly shaped nose and large, flat facial planes. Usually such female partners to big male masks help out at periods of initiation and make an appearance only at important funerals or crisis.  All functioned within the major men's association generally known as poro. Figures also exists and are kept within each household. They have facial feature similar to Landi masks.

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