The DMA’s Conservation and Arts of Africa departments, in an exciting and cutting-edge collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center, will present CT scans of a Senufo helmet mask from the Museum’s African art collection. This kind of mask is worn like a helmet by a medium at initiations, funerals, harvest celebrations and secret events conducted by the powerful male-only Komo society, which has traditionally maintained social and spiritual harmony in Senufo villages in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso. Visible attachments on the mask include a female figure, cowrie shells, and imported glassware. The CT-scans reveal unexpected materials beneath the surface and objects contained in the attached animal horns that empower the mask.
Dr. Matthew A. Lewis and Dr. Todd Soesbe, faculty members of the Department of Radiology at the Medical School of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, assisted with this exhibition.
Not Visible to the Naked Eye: Inside a Senufo Helmet Mask is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Members and donors, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture.
Image: Senufo peoples, helmet mask (komo), mid-20th century, wood, glass, animal horns, fiber, mirrors, iron, and other materials, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley, 1997.24; Senufo komo mask. Volume rendering to the Spectral CT of the mask displaying the various horns, tusks, glass, wire, nails, and shells. Courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas Museum of Art; Senufo komo mask. Volume rendering of all the horns and their attachment materials to the mask. Courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas Museum of Art; Senufo komo mask. Volume rendering of metal wire, nails, shells, with glass, mirrors, tusk, and gravel concretions. Courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas Museum of Art