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Activity Idea: Pair of Antelope Headdresses (Ciwara) (Quick Tip)

Use the following strategies with Pair of Antelope Headdresses (Ciwara)

  1.  Animal Features [science]

Look closely at these headdresses. What kind of animals do these remind you of? (antelope and aardvark) Review the relationship of these animals to the Tji Wara. What could farmers learn from these animals? Pretend you are a farmer plowing fields, raking the earth, or planting seeds. Compare your pose and motions with the headdress’ form.

  1. Dancing Music [art, social studies, music, dance]

The Tji Wara headdresses are worn during farming celebrations. The best farmers in the community wear them while dancing to music. Find some music from Mali or another part of Africa that has a rhythm that reminds you of repeated hoeing or jumping motions. Try dancing to this music. As an extension, perform this celebration dance with a headdress and body covering of your own creation.

  1. Crops Here and There [science, social studies]

Discuss the types of crops that are farmed in your region. How are these crops different from those grown in Mali, such as millet? What factors affect the type of crops that grow in a particular region? (weather, soil, economy) As an extension, compare the types of farming techniques and tools used by American and African farmers. Consider how technology has changed the way we farm today.

  1. Farming Celebrations [social studies]

Discuss the ways we celebrate farming and the harvest. Compare how our celebrations are different and similar to the Tji Wara performance. Create a new festivity that honors farmers. Invite your family or school community to this celebration.

  1. Learning the Science of Farming [science, language arts, art]

Bamana people believe that Tji Wara was a mythical animal that taught their ancestors how to farm. Consider how today’s farmers learned how to farm their crops. Interview a few local farmers to discover how they learned their trade and what they think of their job. Create a written or visual portrait of one of these farmers that incorporates some information (in words or images) about the crops they grow and the tools they use. Exhibit these portraits in your school or community. Invite the farmers to see your work and share stories of their lives.

  1. Composite Creatures [art, science]

The Tji Wara is a composite animal, taking characteristics and form from both an antelope and aardvark. When the masker wears this animal headdress, he takes on the positive qualities of these animals. For instance, he becomes graceful and swift like an antelope. Create your own composite creature that exhibits characteristics you would like to possess.  Take the characteristics and forms from animals you find in nature. Represent these forms realistically or abstract them like the artists who made the Tji Wara headdresses did.