Elek Mask of the Baga Peoples
H: 24 in, L: 32 in, W: 6 in.
Every Baga family owns an Elek mask. The mask is either on foot or composite; typical production of the Baga tradition. It has the shape made with carving or excision of the Elek bird (African ibis), with stylized features of the human face on the back and of the mouth of a crocodile. The head and neck are one piece that rests inside its base. Extending from the back of the skull is a carved unidentified figure. Elek masks are used to protect the ancestors of the family it resides with. At harvest time, it protects the communities food and punishes the guilty. The masks are also used by the Somo society of the Baga, and at the same time during purification ceremonies, to rid the tribe or individuals of evil forces.