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NEW Vintage & Antique Finds: Baga Nimba Headdress

Baga Nimba, wood, Guinea, old.  36" x 12"

Baga Nimba, Guinea, H: 36" W:12". Gallery #96 Hemingway African Gallery/212.838.3650

“Nimba is the joy of living” for the Baga peoples of Guinea, Africa. The most vital of the Baga arts, the headdress known as Nimba or D’mba represents the “universal mother” in Baga society; a figure of fertility and protection who presides over important events like agricultural ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, unlike many other African masked representations, Nimba is not a “spirit” but an “idea”–“the vision of woman at the zenith of her power, beauty, and affective presence.”


Front view, Baga Nimba

Worn with a raffia skirt at ceremonial dances, Nimba’s defining characteristics include her flat, pendant breasts symbolizing a full motherhood spent nursing children, and her hairstyle crested and braided down the center of her head. Interestingly, according to the Met Museum, Nimba’s hairstyle is actually characteristic of another peoples, the Fulbe, from whom the Baga are descended, and so Nimba serves as a connection to their past. The short line under Nimba’s eye (not very pronounced on this mask) represent Baga ethnicity, and some masks, as this one, are beautifully ornamented with pops of color at the mask’s features. For details on this mask, reach out to Hemingway African Gallery.

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