African art > African mask > Bwa Mask
Bwa animal mask (N° 19038)
Embodying the spirit of a monkey, this mask forms one of the variants of the stylized zoomorphic masks of the Bwa and Gurunsi. A visored forehead, an imposing triangular nose, and a diamond mouth opening onto carved teeth. The holder of the mask and his family worshipped the object through offerings such as millet beer, while invoking its protection. The surface bears symbolic geometric patterns. The dark patina was usually obtained from charcoal and gum tree husks.
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Established 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 rhombus named alive , is supposed to intervene during funerals and agrarian rites. The masks made of leaves are made by the villagers, only the Bwa of the South, the niegue, produce wooden masks often zoomorphic, and the famous masks-platforms, abstract, representing the spirits of nature, the naw, are made by the villagers. (C.Roy).
(Source: "Masques animaliers d'Afrique noire" G. Massa and C. Dewé)
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