Puppet Masquerades in the Valley of the Niger

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

Baninkònò, the Stork. Kirango, 1979. Photo by Mary Jo Arnoldi.


The masquerade is almost identical to one performed by Sòmòno fishermen living in Segou city. Kirango Sòmònò families trace their descent from Sòmòno families living in Segou city and these families played prominent roles in the precolonial Segou Empire. Through their Baninkònò masquerade Kirango Sòmòno assert their genealogical links with the Segou city families and celebrate their shared heroic past.