Puppet Masquerades in the Valley of the Niger

by Mary Jo Arnoldi
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Gòn, the Baboon. Kirango, 1979. Photo by Mary Jo Arnoldi.


When Gòn appears its dance performance emphasizes the animal's erratic behavior in the wild. The masker darts and rushes around the arena and plunges into the audience scattering people in every direction. The masker's attendant pulls it back into the ring and controls it's excesses by means of a rope attached to the baboon's waist. It darts several times around the ring and then quickly exits.