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.

Typically, the Baga Nimba's hair is braided into parallel rows (represented by the
scarification on the head) which are similar to the patterns of agriculture grown in West
African fields. The face, and breasts of the Baga Nimba are decorated with scarification,
which embody the ability of the Baga Nimba to alter its condition to the natural
environment. Nimba's presence is exemplified in all aspects if baga life for she is present
publicly at weddings to give direction to the new union; at funerals to initiate the ded;
harvest to celebrate productivity; and planting to inspire her people to continue to
complete difficult tasks. Ultimately, Nimba is a reminder of the reverred qualities which
make up the Baga social system.
Sources: Art of the Baga Photo: Art of the Baga
I currently do not have a Baga D'mba in my collection

The spectacular piece below is in the Pollizze Collection
It was acquired from the McDonald-Levy Collection

80" tall (6.67 feet or 203cm)
Above is the professional photo taken with a raffia skirt on the piece.
It was a newer addition, but the piece is older and I told them I thought it would look
better displayed without it so it could show the real character of this great piece as you
will see from the photos below.
Additional examples and information for reference purposes
Nimba dance 1938
This headdress is now in the Museum Barbier-Mueller in Geneva.
Helene Leloup and assistant loading
Nimba headdresses and Bansonyi
snakes in her truck in 1956
The Baga Nimba at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY

Headdress, 19th–20th century
Baga peoples; Guinea
Wood; H. 46 1/2 in. (118.1 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.17)
This colossal wooden headdress, measuring nearly four feet in height, is known as D'mba among the Baga peoples of the Guinea
coast. D'mba's flat, pendant breasts are a symbol of motherhood and reveal the selfless dedication with which she has nursed
numerous children to adulthood. Her coiffure consists of intricately braided rows of hair and a high crest down the center. This
hairstyle is not a characteristic of the Baga, but rather one of the Fulbe people, who inhabit the Futa Jallon mountains, where the
Baga ancestors once lived. The coiffure serves as a reminder to the Baga of their origins in the Futa Jallon. The face, neck, and
breasts of the bust are decorated with linear patterns: a horizontal line from the cheek to the ear, a curved line from the ear along
the jawline, a line connecting these two lines, all ending at a circular line that surrounds the entire face. Often on each cheek, just
below the eyes, there are two short carved lines—the mark of Baga ethnicity. Embellishments are sometimes added as well,
including painted wooden ornaments attached to the ear or pendants attached to the nasal septum.

Unlike masked representations from other African cultures, which may represent ethereal spirits or ancestors, D'mba is not a "spirit,"
but instead is loosely described by the Baga themselves as simply an "idea." D'mba is an abstraction of the ideal of the female role
in Baga society. She is honored as the universal mother and is the vision of woman at the zenith of her power, beauty, and affective
presence. Although D'mba is not a spiritual being in the Baga sense of the term, nor a deity, she is a being of undeniable spiritual
power. The Baga conceive of D'mba as a servant of sorts—inspiring young women with the strength to bear children and raise them
to adulthood, inspiring young men to cooperative excellence in agriculture, and inspiring the ancestors to contribute toward the
continuance of community well-being.

During performances, the massive headdress is worn with a costume of raffia and cloth. In the past, the D'mba masquerade was
performed at least twice a year before the rainy seasons. D'mba would also appear to dance at festive occasions such as marriages
and funerals, and in honor of special guests. In contemporary Baga culture, D'mba performances have not been as widely
embraced as in the past, so they are rarely witnessed today.

The origins of the D'mba headdress, like many other aspects of Baga material culture, remain the subject of conjecture. Most Baga
elders suggest that D'mba was not brought by their nomadic ancestors, but rather created after their arrival to their current home in
Guinea's coastal region. Interestingly enough, the cloth shawl worn by D'mba during performances, usually dark indigo or black, has
always been cotton cloth imported from Europe, never of African manufacture. In fact, it seems that many Baga masquerades
developed in the twentieth century use European factory printed cloth for the costume.

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Shoulder Mask (Nimba)
Guinea (Baga people)
Late nineteenth-early twentieth century
Wood, originally with raffia attachment
45 in. (114.3 cm)
Gift of Charles and Harriet Edwards with funds from the Lawrence Archer Wachs Trust, 1998.43

This impressive carving represents a ritual mask of the Baga, one of three main tribes who inhabit the Atlantic coast of
southwestern Guinea. Worn by members of the dominant Simo secret society, it depicts the spirit Nimba, goddess of
increase and fecundity.

An embodiment of the goddess and of "mother earth," the Nimba mask was associated both with human procreation
and with the fertility of the fields. According to nineteenth-century accounts written by travelers in the region, it was
carried about in the marshes and tall grasses of the Baga rice paddies. A potent fertility symbol, the goddess Nimba
was also invoked by infertile women in the Simo society. The headdress, in fact, represents an idealized female figure;
the long, flat, pendulous breasts identify her as a mature woman who has given birth to many children and has
nurtured them to adulthood.
The most monumental of ritual African masks, the Nimba mask towered eight feet above the ground when worn over
the shoulders by a Baga dancer.

This piece abover is in the Cincinnati Museum of Art Collection
Headdress (Nimba, D'mba, or Yamban), mid-19th/early 20th century
Guinea. Wood, metal tacks
H: 119.4 cm x W: 33 cm x D: 59.1 cm W. G. Field Fund, Inc. and E. E. Ayer Endowment Fund in memory of Charles L.

This piece above is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
An excellent reference on the Baga and their art is "Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention".
Click on the picture below to go to the page to view/purchase this book.