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Bwa Nawantante zoomorphic mask (N° 16814)
Established population on both sides of the Black Volta in Burkina Faso and Mali, the Bwa are divided into three endogamous castes: blacksmiths, griots and farmers. The Bwa believe in a god Difini creator of the world, who later abandoned him to his son Do. Do, whose emblem is an iron rhombe named alive , is supposed to intervene during funerals and agrarian rites. The leaf masks are made by the villagers, only the South Bwa, the niegueguegue , produce wooden masks often zoomorphic, and the famous, abstract plank masks representing the spirits of nature, the naw . (C.Roy) Incarnating a spirit, this mask abstractly evoking the bird calao or nwo is surmounted by a vertical plank on which was carved a crocodile figure. The holder of the mask and his family worshipped the object through offerings such as millet beer, while invoking its protection. The surface has symbolic geometric patterns. The dark patina was usually obtained from charcoal and gum pods. Once two-coloured, its surface bears tiny kaolin residues.
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