Hercules, Damascus, St. Paul, and the Baga N’mba

Prehaps the least utilized asset of man is his imagination. The ability to think beyond the box and connect the dots in ways not solely dependent on his own physical means. The myth of Hercules reinforces the concept that even if faced with seemingly impossible odds one may use ingenuity, skill, and luck to fashion a solution.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Hercules, but in acquiring a Baga N’mba  I feel as lucky as Hercules did in collecting the apples of the Hesperides.[1]

 

Baga D'mba (Nimba) Mask - My big baby :0)

The most important of the Baga art forms is the great mask, D’mba  or Nimba.

It represents the mother of fertility, protector of pregnant women, and presides over all agricultural ceremonies. The dancer, wearing a full raffia costume, carries the mask on his shoulders, looking out through holes between the breasts. In use, such masks rise more than eight feet above the ground; they often weigh more than eighty pounds. Most show a standardized pattern of facial scarification.

” Nimba is the joy of living; it is the promise of abundant harvest”

The Baga Nimba, or D’mba, represents the abstraction of an ideal of the female role in society. The Nimba is essentailly viewed as the vision of woman at her zenith of power, beauty, and affective presence; rather than a goddess or spirit. The typical Nimba form illustrates a woman that has been fertile, given birth to several children, and nurtured them to adulthood.[2]

Baga D'mba - The Tribal Arts of Africa, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, p22

 

But the highlight of the trip to Damascus, (ok Boston) , came when I realized that the starter on the car’s engine had conked out on me. Fortunately I drive a standard shift Jetta (most women prefer automatic) so kick-starting the car is always an option.  As luck would have it a very nice couple id’d my predicament and were quick to render assistance. What was really funny was that the guy’s wife had been involved in a major car wreck that morning…. passenger side totally smashed in… yet they were able to put aside their troubles (and coffee), to help out a total stranger…. all the while listening to me droning that they really needed to be in church thanking God that no one died in the accident.  To say that I was grateful is an understatement, (I actually have Geico roadside assistance – go figure), and this is where I guess I had my St. Paul moment… I didn’t get knocked off a donkey by lightning, or go blind for three days, or fast this weekend…. it was more in the “revelatory nature”[3] of things.  This simple act of kindness totally restored my faith in humanity. Then in pushing the envelope, one can also tie in the redemption aspect of the Hercules myth…. but that would be another story for another day :0)

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One Response to Hercules, Damascus, St. Paul, and the Baga N’mba

  1. suchmaschine says:

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

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