Flat and circular, imposing by its dimensions, this African mask is engraved with rhombic motifs arranged in successive circular friezes. It is painted with a matte polychromy, burgundy red, white kaolin and dark brown. The mouth in which the teeth are represented is hollowed out to allow the dancer to see. It would symbolize a totem bird of different Mossi clans.
Crack of desiccation. Matt patina.
The African art sculptures of the Bobo , Bwa , Kurumba and Mossi , living in Burkina Faso , frequently take up and combine stylized elements borrowed from humans, animals or even insects. It is the spirits of nature that are supposed to determine the well-being and prosperity of an individual, and adversity will be seen as the result of neglect of collective rites. It is therefore during different celebrations that the mask will personify a spirit of nature or that of an ancestor in order to influence the daily life of the members of the ethnic group. They appear to honor the deceased during funeral rites, and to escort the souls to the kingdom of the dead. They also appear during agricultural festivals in order to ensure the progression of the seasons, as well as during initiation rites to initiate young people into the responsibilities of adult life.
The masks are the object of family pride, and thus a means of enhancing one's prosperity and influence within the group. It is in a spirit of competition that each person will seek to highlight the dancing performance of his or her mask, and to put forward the ornamental motifs on its surface.
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