It's a Agriculture ceremonial dance mask from Mali.
This headdress has become a famous icon of African art and is a Bambara mask. They were used in ceremonies related to agriculture.
The most noble and sacred activities and tasks for the Bamana/Bambara are those related to agriculture. At the occasion of such a task, a pair/couple of men of the tyi wara association of farmers performed dances with a pair of one male and one female tyi wara headdress in the fields.
They danced early in the morning in the field, on the rhythm of the drums, chants and hand clapping of young girls. In this way they honored the mythical farming animal tyi wara, that taught agriculture to the ancestors of the Bambara/Bamana.
Competitions were organised for young men and only the winners were allowed to wear the tyi wara headdress for one year, during private or public performances.
A long mythical story is associated with the tyi wara. The tyi wara wooden headdresses are always carved in a plane. Many variations exist. Most pieces rest on a quadrangular base.
This is fixed to a small basket that is adjusted on the head of the dancer.
Long black fibers hang from the headdress and cover the basket and the face of the dancer; these symbolize falling water as an essential ingredient for farming.
The male type shows a male, mythical, beautiful and powerful antelope with two long, curved horns that stand for the tall growth of millet, with a clearly visible tail,with a penis that symbolizes the rooting of the grain, with long ears that refer to the cultivators' listening to the songs sung by women who encourage the men while they work in the fields, with an open, zigzag pattern in the neck that symbolizes the sun's path along the horizon between the two solstices.
BDW Love and Light