Chi wara headdress translates as “animal of tillage.” In Bamana belief, a mythical creature-the primordial Chi Wara-was the first farmer, a wild beast who taught mankind how to cultivate fields.The lower body represents the aardvark, a type of anteater that burrows into the ground with its claws and snout. The way an aardvark scratches at the earth reminds the viewer of planting crops. The head of the sculpture with the tall thin antlers of a roan antelope remind the viewer of growing millet, a grain commonly grown in the region. And, the zigzag patterns stand for the path of the sun between winter and summer solstices also suggesting the way an antelope runs. The Chi wara is formed into a crest mask, which sits on top of the dancer’s head attached to a basketry cap. The dancer’s body and face are hidden by a costume of grasses and fibers that is a symbol of rain-essential to growing food. Beads, leather, and metal attachments often are added to embellish the masquerade. Tribal collection.