Senufo Buffalo Mask

Rare Senufo Ganakono buffalo mask of the Nookaariga society of healers and herbalists.

Tribe: Senufo

Origin: Ivory Coast

Approx Age: Later 20th Century 1980’s

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 62 long x 33 wide

Ref. Number: 1452


A beautiful and iconically styled Senufo buffalo mask, this style of mask is known as ‘Ganakono’ and is used within the Nookaariga society for a ceremonial dance.

The Nookaariga are a society of healers and herbalists. This mask is beautifully carved and has been well used, it does have marks around the piece (please see photos). Stunning piece of Senufo history.


According to scholar Anita Glaze, they are the principal insignia of an elite society of healers, nookaariga (meaning “to change into a wild bush-cow”). Oral tradition states that the Senufo hunter who became the founder of the first nookaariga society received the secret knowledge of healing and magical powers of transformation from a mythical wild bush-cow.

The Senufo produce a rich variety of sculptures, mainly associated with the poro society. The sculptors and metalsmiths, endogamous groups responsible for making the cult objects live on their own in a separate part of the village. The attitude shown toward them by other Senufo is a mixture of fear and respect, owing to their privileged relationship with the natural forces that they are capable of channelling in a sculpture.

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