A-Rong A-Thoma

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[the Thoma mask] A mask associated with the RaGbenle society among the eastern Temne. It always seems to be danced in pairs. It is a wooden polychrome mask with a domed head framed at the sides by horns, and flaring nostrils above a gaping toothed mouth partly concealed by black animal hair. It is worn on top of the head with a fringe of reddish-dyed raffia, below which is a reddish-dyed raffia cape and raffia leggings. The pair of masks perform in a number of Temne chiefdoms in Kolifa and Kuniki, but seem nowadays to originate from the town of Yele in Gbonkolenken chiefdom, where it is said there was an original mask that appeared magically out of the waters of the nearbye Taia River.

  • N.W.Thomas, Anthropological Report on Sierra Leone (London 1916). [Plate V]
  • F.J.Lamp, 'The royal horned hippopotamus of the Keita of Temne: a-Rong a-Thoma', Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 2005, 37-54. [Aside from Lamp's initial dubious claim that a-Rong a-Thoma represents a hippopotamus, the tana or totemic animal of the Kanu (or Keita), one of ruling families or clans in Gbonkolenken chiefdom, this is generally a well-informed and comprehensive account of the masquerade.]