Baga Snake African Headdress 47″ on Base – Guinea



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This headdress was carved in the style of the Baga people of Guinea. The figural headdress features a multi-colored snake attached to a custom base for easy display. Figures like this were actually worn as headdresses by the Baga people. The statue measures 47 inches tall on its base and weighs 14 pounds. There is some previous bug damage (no longer active), cracking and wear and tear – please see photos.

Type of Object

Figure, statue, Headdress

Country of Origin






Wood, Pigment

Approximate Age









14 lbs

Overall Condition

Old bug holes, cracking and wear and tear – see photos.

Tribe Information


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Tribe Information

About the Baga People

The Baga people live amid the southern swampy lands of the Guinea Atlantic coastline. According to oral tradition, they originally lived along the interior highlands but were driven westward by their neighbors. The name ‘Baga’ is believed to have come from the phrase ‘bae raka’, meaning “people of the seaside”.
Read more about the Baga here.

Additional Information

About the Serpent Headdress

Headdresses such as this are referred to as Bansonyi or a Mantsho-, a divine being based on the myth of the serpent spirit Ninkinanka. Ninkinanka is known as the spirit who gives rain, fertility and wealth. Anyone profiting from his aid will pay a hefty price. He is found as a youngster in the forest and as an adult in the swamps. The Baga believe he may manifest himself in many forms, including a rainbow since it marks waters.
The Baga and their cultural relatives feared the spiritual force from the Mantsho-ña-tshol. He is said to be more brightly colored and much larger than a typical boa. Dancing with such a headdress needed outstanding balance and strength. The performer would balance the headdress on top of their head while dancing and acutely moving about in a snake like fashion. Typically, the height of the headdress would vary anywhere up to 8 feet or more and would sometimes have eyes inset with glass. They were held on the shoulders of a dancer with the help of light framework and appeared in ceremonies in which clans of a quartier took part.