African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bwa mask
Bwa mask (N° 21032)
African art and the diversity of African Bwa masks.
This Bwa plank mask, of the hawk-mask category but frequently called a butterfly mask, has open wings on which triangular motifs and circles are carved in the wood. Each pattern is a symbol associated with clan myths. The two-tone patina is composed of kaolin and a brown coating. The circles are said to symbolize the flight of butterflies around the ponds during the first rains.
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Bwa masks have borrowed many elements from the Bwa's neighbors, the Gurunsi, Bobo and Mossi.
The Bwa are a population established on both sides of the Black Volta in Burkina Faso and Mali. They are divided into three endogamous castes: blacksmiths, griots and farmers. The Bwa believe in a god Difini, creator of the world, who later abandoned it to his son Do. Do, whose emblem is an iron rhomb named alive, is supposed to intervene during funerals and agrarian rites. Leaf masks are made by the villagers, only the Bwa of the south, the niegue, produce wooden masks often zoomorphic, and the famous board masks, abstract, representing nature spirits.
Ref: "The Bird in West African Art" ed. Sepia; "Animal Masks of Black Africa" ed. Sepia