African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bobo mask
Bobo Janiform Helmet Mask (N° 21502)
A combination of vivid contrasting geometric patterns adorns this African Janiform mask. A crest cap joins the two faces. The painted motifs symbolize the magical amulets of the Bobo. The masks are repainted with each new dance season. Common characteristics are to be noted with certain Markha masks, another Mandingo ethnic group.
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These heavy masks, usually designed around a hemispherical helmet with a crest or horned protrusions, were performed during agricultural rituals to restore the balance of the earth. Their significance was revealed during the initiation of young boys. The Bobo Fing are a Mandingo people, most of whom live in eastern Burkina Faso, but also in southern Mali, and their culture is similar to that of the Bambara. They are organized in lineages led by councils of elders. In each village altars are erected under the authority of blacksmiths, priests of the Dwo cult, but the Bobo also venerate secondary spirits and those of the ancestors. In addition to objects carved from wood, they also make masks from fiber sheets that they wear during ceremonies in order to establish a relationship with the spiritual world. The most important wooden masks are the sacred masks (molo and nwenke), the masks that accompany them (nyaga), and the entertainment masks (bole, sing. bolo).
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