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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A West African Masquerade in 1815
Author:Hart, W.A.
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic term:Sierra Leone
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:In this paper, a letter written by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary G.R. Nylander in 1815 is published in full. The letter describes the 'Kolloh' masquerade of the Bullom people of Sierra Leone. This masquerade has long since been discontinued and is known about from no other source. Although Nylander was not completely free of the religious prejudices of his colleagues, he makes some attempt to present Bullom practices in the context of their beliefs about God and the world of spirits and the afterlife, and he achieves an astonishing degree of objectivity. The centre of interest in the letter is clearly the 'Kolloh' masquerade itself, but there are some remarks made in passing about the political structure of the Bullom chiefdom and the customs following the deaths of chiefs. Nylander describes 'Kolloh' as being a kind of master of ceremonies whose role was to ensure that mortuary rites and ceremonies were properly carried out. Finally, what is valuable about Nylander's letter is the very detailed account (accompanied by an ink drawing) he gives of the appearance and construction of the 'Kolloh' mask. Bibliogr., notes, ref.