Bedu mask

Bedu Mask

Material: Wood, pigment, iron nails

Location: Sir Thomas More Building

The Bedu mask is one of the largest masks on the African continent. It is a flat plank-like form with a stylized head at the bottom and struts extended upwards to form horns or an open, circular form. The mask is generally danced once a year at New Year festivities. This type of performance is seen as the domestication of the bush Bedu into the village Bedu, thus conferring curative and fertilizing powers on women and children as well as granting authority to elders.

Bedu masks are also danced on other occasions. For example, they are danced by athletic young men at funeral rites and harvest festivals with the purpose of ridding the village of evil. Usually about five feet tall, these masks can be made as high as eight feet and weigh as much as one hundred pounds. Although they make strong abstract statements and have been compared to modern art, it is the overwhelmingly positive attributes of Bedu masks that make them so attractive to collectors and experts alike – the same attributes that make the masks important focal points in villages.